Basic Principles and Characteristics of the Circular Economy
Today, sustainability problems in many fields have brought along a change in understanding from linear economy to Circular Economy. Efforts to reduce the use of natural resources on the one hand and to prevent environmental pollution on the other, highlight the circular economy approach as a new sustainable economic system.
The Circular Economy approach is basically based on the understanding of transforming a certain industry by-product into a resource for a second industry, and therefore, a strong emphasis is placed on inter-sectoral dynamics and cooperation (Açıkalın, 2020: 241).
Circular Economy 3R Concept
The 3R concept draws attention in the Circular Economy approach, which aims to contribute to “regional competitiveness and economic growth”. It is possible to express the 3R concepts consisting of the initials of the words “Recycle, Reuse and Reduce” as follows (Geng, Zhu, Doberstein and Fujita 2009: 997; Yang, Zhou and Xu, 2014:218):
1-Recycling: Recycling of waste for direct use or making waste recovery functional,
2-Reuse: The use of wastes in the production of other products, either completely or partially by repair, renewal or remanufacturing,
3-Reduction: Reducing the wastes and pollutants generated in the production and consumption processes.
Principles of the Circular Economy
In addition to these principles, it is possible to summarize other features of the Circular Economy as follows (EMAF, 2013: 8):
– The power of internal loops: The narrower the cycle for a product, the less it is changed in terms of reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing, the faster it converts to use, and the higher the potential for savings in terms of raw materials, labor, energy and capital.
-Longer circling power: Maximizing the number of consecutive cycles (reuse, remanufacturing or recycling) and/or the time in each cycle.
-The power of incremental use: Reuse diversification in the value chain. For example, cotton clothing is reused as second-hand clothing, later in the furniture industry as fiberfill for upholstery, and fiberfill is then used in the production of stone wool for insulation for construction). At this point, in any case cotton fibers are safely returned to the biosphere instead of the entry of raw materials.
-The power of pure circles: The flow of uncontaminated materials through the system ensures the efficiency of collection and redistribution of flows, while maintaining the quality of technical components. In this way, both product life and material efficiency are increased.