Unit 3 Circular economy and sustainability

The current linear economy of extracting-transforming-using-discarding has brought us to the point where we extract resources from the Biosphere without restoring the same value so that it is available to our children.

It was in the 1970s that we started this process of depleting available natural resources, surpassing the capacity for regeneration of ecosystems. And the world population and its needs continue to grow.

To reverse this process, the paradigm of the world economy must be changed to a system based on restoring natural value through the reduction, reuse, recovery and recycling of used resources (materials and energy). This will extend their life in the system, and reduce the life cycle impact of the products and services generated, implementing the concept of sustainability, and thus a Circular Economy.


This adaptation does not imply that there is a loss of competitiveness on the part of those involved in the process. It can even create opportunities and improve existing processes, making them more efficient and with greater added value for society, while also boosting activities at the local level. In fact, the need to optimise resources is a classic economic principle and the move to the circular economy will help in this process of resource efficiency / optimization.

 In the face of this rapidly changing economic and social environment, thinking about sustainability and socially and environmentally responsible management represents a way for companies to position themselves in the market and prosper.

Waste prevention measures, eco-design (stimulating development and innovation), reuse, and other actions within the circular economy can generate very significant savings for companies, creating direct jobs in the sustainable management sector (e.g., in waste management, management effluents and in the alternative energy sector), while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the life cycle impact of companies’ activities.

The fashion industry and its relation to circular economy

Well done, you have successfully completed the module

“Circular Economy, What’s in a name?”.