Circular Economy

Recycling and resource efficiency: it is time for a change from quantity to quality

by Costas A. Velis, University of Leeds and Paul H. Brunner, Vienna University of Technology, published in Waste Management & Research, 2013

Imagine a world where everything we use is eventually recycled. Sooner or later, this means also a world where everything we use contains recycled materials. Most natural environments work on this principle, via decomposition and assimilation. In a world full of products of human innovation, such as highly engineered materials, synthetic chemical compounds and complex products such as electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), and run at a fast forward pace, being inspired by natural environments remains paramount, but can also prove misleading. Recycling does have limits and is a means to higher level targets – not a goal in itself.