Circular Economy

The circular economy proposes an evolution from the linear production and consumption model- extraction of resources, manufacture, consumption and then discarded as waste - which prevailed for two centuries, to a model inspired by nature and its functioning, where everything is harnessed, transformed and reused.

A paradigm shift which emerges as a necessary and urgent response in order to address some of humanity's great challenges, such as climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity or the gradual depletion of resources, making it evident that it is impossible to maintain unlimited growth rates on a finite planet. Since 1980, the annual extraction levels of raw materials have increased by 60% and, every year, humanity consumes natural resources which already nearly doubles the planet's regeneration capacity.

Among other solutions, the circular economy delivers formulas to prolong the useful economic life of materials and products, foster the repair and reuse of consumer goods, introduces alternative habits such as shared use, minimises the generation of waste, studies how to make the most of what has been produced and reinforces the use of renewable energies.

All in all, the circular economy makes it possible to redefine the concept of growth and progress in order to obtain a restorative, regenerative and more sustainable economic system, based on greater efficiency in the use of resources, which ensures the conservation of our planet and the well-being of all its inhabitants.

The transition towards a circular economy and its consolidation is underpinned on two fundamental cornerstones: awareness and joint responsibility. Making headway in this model requires a comprehensive, strategic and multidisciplinary plan in which all the agents are involved, working in a coordinated manner, with the conviction that it is an unstoppable and absolutely necessary process in order to protect and preserve the planet.

Any company, organisation, institution, the Public Administrations and, of course, the citizens, must act accordingly and unite. Only from this perspective of public-private cooperation and citizen participation will a real change in the economic model be viable.

New methods of production and to be competitive must be defined, whilst at the same time being sustainable and responsible. In recent years, an evident explosion of political, business and social awareness of the need to speed up the transition from the linear model of production and consumption to a circular model has been seen.

It is time to speed up its implementation if a real change is desired.

Do you want to join in?

The circular strategy extends to the entire process and product lifecycle, from its conception and design to its composition and raw materials, the analysis of how it will be produced, transported and marketed, its usefulness and functionality, its durability – eschewing practices which pursue obsolescence– and the options for reuse, recovery or recycling at the end of the useful life for which it was designed.

Working in this context allows:

For Public Administrations and institutions:

To evolve towards a more sustainable economic model in their areas, supporting reindustrialisation, the development of an increasingly efficient, productive and competitive companies, less polluting, generating wealth and quality jobs, whilst preserving and protecting their environment and the standard of living of its inhabitants.

For companies:

♢ Improvements in efficiency: The circular economy model is intended at reducing the consumption of materials and products, extending their useful life, and that of energy -prioritising, furthermore, that from renewable sources-, with the resulting progress for companies in terms of management efficiency.

♢ Greater risk control: Introducing circular economy strategies conducive to companies to reduce their degree of dependence on the supply of raw materials and possible price fluctuations on the markets, within a context of gradual depletion of natural resources.

♢ Innovation: The need to respond to the challenges posed by new consumption and production models, as well as the growing demand for certain products and services (recycling, shared consumption, new materials etc.) create opportunities for consolidated companies and new entrepreneurial projects.

♢ Resilience: Companies which evolve towards more sustainable management and business models have demonstrated to perform better in times of crisis and have an increased recovery capacity.

♢ Competitiveness: Due to the preceding points, organisations which integrate the circular economy will improve their productivity and generate competitive advantages in a globalised world.

For citizens:

♢ Improvement in their purchasing and consumption decisions, extending the range of products and services which minimise negative impacts on the environment and promote positive impacts.

♢ Management optimization of their economic resources.

♢ Access to quality and sustainable jobs, which further greater integration and social cohesion.

Changing an economic model which has established for generations is a process that requires time and resources.

The major challenges are as follows:

♢ A comprehensive and continuously changing regulatory framework: There are significant delays in the transposition of international agreements and supranational regulations (European directives) into national legislation and which are addressed by the autonomous communities - in matters within their competence. It is essential that the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy, approved last June, is reflected in regulatory developments which ensure its effective implementation and the attainment of common results.

♢ A general absence of public policies which serve as an impetus for the evolution of companies (tax incentives, public procurement with sustainable criteria, R&D support, funding lines etc.).

♢ Absence of real commitment from companies: The 'circularity' level in the global production system is estimated at barely 9.1% -according to The Circularity Gap study-.

♢ The need to incur significant investments in order to repurpose products, services and processes or those which are subject to extended amortisation periods.

♢ Market barriers: Absence of real consumer demand, either due to entrenched habits or the impact on investment prices incurred by the company, which can penalise its sales volume.

♢ The absence of definition of models, systems and actions which actively involve citizens and consumers.

♢ The absence of standard tools for the impact measurement of these strategies and policies, which enable data to be available and knowledge to be generated in order to know what and where the business opportunities and risks associated with circular systems lie.

Have you considered what you can do, both personally and professionally, in order to foster circular economy?

The 'R’s' (7R’s, 9R’s, 10R’s...) of the circular economy serve as a guide for making more responsible and sustainable production and consumption decisions:

♢ Redesign: Rethink products with sustainability criteria, from their shape to the materials to be used, the possibilities for reuse, dismantling or recycling.

♢ Reduce: Change consumption habits, both when deciding on a purchase - do I really need that product – as well when prioritising types of materials, formats or possibilities for reuse or recycling.

♢ Refuse: Through innovation, making the product redundant, abandoning its function or offering the same function with a radically different product.

♢ Reuse: Extend the useful life of products by giving these another use.

♢ Rethink: Consumption patterns to ensure the best possible use of the good (for example, through sharing or pay-per-use).

♢ Repair: Repair a product which does not work means less material consumption and less waste generation and will generally be cheaper than purchasing a new one.

♢ Refurbish: Updating a consumer good to make it usable again.

♢ Recover: Reintroduce previously used materials into the production process.

♢ Remanufacture: Using parts of a product in the production of a new good with the same or different functions.

♢ Recycle: When the previous channels are no longer possible, the product is treated to process the waste into raw materials which return to the production process.

The implementation of a circular economy is one of the key strategic lines in order to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDA) Agenda - approved by the United Nations on 25 September 2015 - which defines a roadmap, a strategy and universally shared objectives for the purposes of addressing the major global challenges of humanity.

A total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are defined, which in turn are specified into 169 objectives, to move forward towards a more responsible world economy and inclusive of people and the planet. It is not only what should be done, but likewise how to do so. The SDG 12 focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns in an increasing efficient and responsible manner, with objectives directly intended at a more efficient use of natural resources and energy, reduction of waste and its treatment and recycling. But it is not the only SDG related to a circular economic model. SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land) will likewise receive positive impacts from system change, which will also indirectly affect those related to the health and well-being of people.

The Sustainable Development Goals are interconnected and likewise the agents involved. Their attainment requires a global and joint action: it involves people, companies, public administrations, educational institutions, social institutions, third sector organisations... Goal 17 itself focuses on partnerships in order to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Circular Economy and Design

Design is the main engine for integrating the circular economy into business models. Furthermore, as an element of innovation, which enables to rethink the product with a view to the future, seeking efficiency optimisation, taking into account environmental impacts throughout its life cycle and providing solutions accordingly. To that end, design must be positioned at the core of circular economy strategies.

Projects in which circular design is applied are more innovative, minimise their adverse impacts on the environment and reinforce their positive effects, as well as compliance with other technical, economic, regulatory and operational requirements. All this, without forgetting its functionality in terms of dissemination of information and adaptation to new consumer habits and quality in the user experience, which are essential in order to ensure its success.

Circular economy, sustainability and design are part of an equation whose result will be the improvement of the productivity and competitiveness of the productive framework of the Valencian Community.

Design is a key element in the construction of a regenerative economy, given that it is at this stage that the decisions which define the product, service or business model are taken and, therefore, are conclusive in controlling the impacts of the process and the final result.

Design is the starting point of any project, and in the circular economy it takes on great importance, as it is the driving force behind sustainable innovation. Circular design works on the entire value chain of an initiative. Not only through methodologies such as eco-design, with which the environmental impacts in the production processes are reduced. It likewise focuses on efficiency in use - avoiding waste -; its durability - avoiding planned obsolescence -; the search for new uses for products, their components or materials, so that these remain in the system as useful elements and bring added value for as long as possible.

Circular design likewise contemplates working to obtain new construction and space models, as well as, in the case of graphic design and visual communication, obtaining the transmission of circular values and the connection thereof to consumers and users.

All this, without forgetting that design is likewise very useful in its most strategic aspect -for example, when defining services and new business models.

The integration of circular design in the dynamics of companies will allow for the construction of more innovative, diversified, sustainable and competitive organisations.

In order to obtain this, it is essential to examine the role of design in circular transformation and to have professionals whose training and expertise to enable the development of sustainable strategies, projects and processes in companies.

The Platform

The Valencian Community meets, a priori, all the requirements to lead and become a reference benchmark as regards the implementation of a new production model built upon the principles of circular economy: a comprehensive and diverse business fabric, both per sector as well as per company profile; a knowledge and innovation centres network with extensive experience and in continued development - universities, institutions and technology centres; a social base that is increasingly aware of the need to change consumer habits, and an autonomous government committed to the evolution towards sustainable production models.

The platform was created with the intention of becoming a meeting, information and training point, as well as the generation of synergies and projects in partnership between the different types of agents involved and committed to the actual and effective implementation of a circular economy model in the Valencian Community, with the objective of accelerating the process and obtaining the best results.

Starting from the belief that sharing knowledge, experiences and good practices is the best method to lay foundations for building a more efficient, sustainable and competitive system of production and consumption, which will enable to move forward in the objective of protecting and preserving the environment and improving people's well-being and standard of living.

This platform is geared towards any person interested in broadening his/her knowledge as regards circular economy, with a particular focus on entrepreneurs, companies, designers, managers, technicians and researchers in areas related to innovation and the economy.

The platform was created with the intention of being a permanent reference benchmark in the area of circular economy, not only in the Valencian Community region but likewise at the national and international level.

The organisation promoting the platform is the Association of Designers of the Valencian Community (ADCV), which has the backing and funding of the Valencia Innovation Agency (AVI), a body under the Government of Valencia, to carry out the project.

The ADCV has approximately 200 members, including design professionals, students and organisations, and has been working since its creation in 1985 on the promotion and dissemination of design value as a driving force for entrepreneurial, social and cultural innovation. In this regard, in 2017 the ADCV introduced the circular economy as one of its strategic lines of work, spearheading this movement in the Valencian Community.

The AVI is a public entity of the Regional Government of Valencia responsible for improving the Valencian production model by developing its innovative capacity in order to obtain intelligent, sustainable and integrating growth.

This public-private collaboration is framed within the SDG 17, partnership to obtain the Sustainable Development Goals.

Participating in the platform provides access to information and knowledge as regards trends, regulations, projects and successful stories in the circular economy area; to resources and tools to facilitate their practical implementation; enables finding and contacting agents (public and private) who are working in its different areas, and, all in all, to be an active part of a global paradigm shift which is essential in order to move forward with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.

The platform will work on data collection, analysis and knowledge generation related to circular economy. On this basis, participants will find ideas to designing specific strategies and actions, as well as reframing services, products and systems, in such a way that these generate positive impacts in social, environmental and economic terms, offering lasting, healthy, systemic and regenerative solutions.

Furthermore, the platform will act as a meeting point between the agents involved in the evolution towards a circular economy model, through an agents’ directory - which is constantly updated - and the various dissemination and promotion events that will be organised throughout the year.

One of the challenges is to work on the definition of systems which enable the circularity of companies to be measured, with key indicators which enable a process of continuous improvement to be undertaken.

Do you believe in a more responsible and sustainable, regenerative and innovative economic model?

If you identify yourself with a convinced and committed stance in the evolution towards a circular system, which generates prosperity, improvements to the planet and fosters welfare and social equity, then you are already part of this community. We would like to hear about your experiences and projects, in order to continue adding to these.

Please drop us a line and we will contact you:

You can also fill out this form.