The case for the circular economy – in one graph


The Circular Economy is one of the big trends industrial trends of the new century – or at least it will be. The graph above demonstrates the main reason why.

Over the past century, advances in technology and cheap global transport has pushed down the price of raw materials for industry. That has come to an abrupt end as rising demand from developing countries coincides with the peaking of conventional oil production and the depletion of other key resources.

Increasingly, stewarding resources for the future is not just a sustainability policy, but good business sense. New business models are emerging that focus on creating things for re-use or recycling, and existing businesses are adapting to lower their resource costs. The more materials-intensive the business, the greater the incentive to keep circulating resources rather than losing them into waste streams.


  1. Resource crunch – the risks to business | Make Wealth History - February 10, 2014

    […] As I posted last week, rapid development in many parts of the world has led to soaring demand for metals and minerals. Prices have risen to record highs, and suppliers are scrabbling to keep up with demand. They can only keep up for so long, and the Critical Materials Institute foresees shortages of some metals as early as 2016. Heady days for mining companies, but a real challenge to those who need the copper or tantalum for their business. […]

  2. 2020 Conservatives talk circular economy | Make Wealth History - February 12, 2014

    […] As I was describing recently, resources are increasingly expensive, and 2020 recognise this. “During the 20th century progressively cheaper resources underpinned global economic growth… this era appears to have come to an end.” Instead, British industry need to divert waste back into productive use and pursue materials productivity as well as labour productivity. “Moving to a more circular UK economy has the potential to increase the UK’s net exports by more than £20 billion and reduce business costs by over £50 billion a year, so the reuse of resources can enhance economic profitability, while lowering balance of payments deficits and expensive externalities.” […]

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