circular economy design waste

Four principles of the Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is an approach to industry that moves away from linear consumption and towards reuse. If you’ve heard the phrase and aren’t entirely sure what it means, here are four principles that explain the philosophy.

  1. A true circular economy is zero waste. Nothing is thrown away, because waste is designed out by making things for repair, disassembly and reuse.
  2. There are two types of industrial ‘ingredients’: disposable and durable. Disposable ingredients are those that can biodegrade, such as paper or fabric. Second, there are ‘technical’ ingredients like metal or plastic that can be reused. Things must be one or the other so that everything can be either reused or put back into nature. More complex objects should be designed to be dismantled so that they can be sorted into those two categories at the end of their lives.
  3. If this industrial cycle is to be sustainable, then the energy that powers it needs to be entirely renewable. This also reduces businesses exposure to resource depletion or supply shocks.
  4. Customers are no longer consumers, but users.  This means that companies will want the materials back when you’re done with them. That could mean an incentive to return things at the end of their useful life, or it could mean more leasing, renting and sharing.

The principles above are from Towards the Circular Economy, the third research volume from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


  1. I thought of sharing an Abstract of a Technical Paper planned to be present in the 2019 Annual Session of Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka

    Vision hidden behind the Design Features of Sri Lankan Ancient Irrigation Engineering Technology
    Mahinda Panapitiya
    M Sc, (Department of Irrigation Engineering) Utah State University, Utah, USA – 1982
    B Sc (Civil Engineering), University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka – 1974
    Due to recent climatic changes taking place at global level, world is now heading for a disaster environmentally, unless some kind of a middle path is adapted in future economic planning of projects depend specially on natural resources for food production. How to define this middle path in relation to such development is a paradox. Conventional Middle path is a person specific point of view and therefore the middle varies from person to person, from nation to nation and even politically within a nation. However the middle path meant in Buddhism for development is universal and common to all the living beings. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country for more than 2600 years. In order to understand this universally common middle path in its right spirit, qualities of physical outcomes generated from projects already implemented by the Sri Lankan ancient planners equipped with Buddhist vision, could be used as an exploration ground. Ancient Cascade irrigation systems which have been sustained more than 2000 years and still functioning in some parts of Sri Lanka is the best entry point for that exploration. In this exploration, there is to need to apply new approaches such as circular economic models to analyse the reason behind that long term sustainability. How AIT guaranteed the health of the end users is also another criterion need to analyse. Note that modern irrigation systems developed during last century have already failed due to water pollution. For an example over the past 20 years, 23,000 people have died in the Dry Zone and an estimated 69,000 have been diagnosed with water related Chronic Kidney Disease .

    Main objective of this paper is to expose some of the features of that ancient cascade approach related to the Buddhist middle path adapted for development. Using a Preaching of Buddha about the role of foods, this paper reveals how the Ancient Irrigation Technocrats equipped with Buddhist Vision, follow universally applicable middle path to produce foods guaranteeing both physical and mental healthiness of the end users.

    This universally common middle path vision is a new paradigm for present economic planners and engineers. However it is worth to explore because it might address the current climatic disaster facing the world due to unsustainable quality inherited with modern development approaches. This paper is an open invitation to the modern Engineering professionals, Economists, Anthropologists and Political Scientists to participate in that exploration.

    Key Words: Cascade, Ecosystem, Middle Path, Circular Economic Theory

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: