Circular economy: the pillars of sustainable development

Use renewable energy sources and materials, extend the useful life of each product, create sharing platforms, reuse and regenerate, rethink products as services. These are all elements of the Circular Economy, a model created to address the sustainability needs of the planet and one that offers businesses an extraordinary opportunity in terms of competitiveness, innovation and job creation, creating value for companies and their customers.

The circular paradigm is based on five pillars that can be applied individually or in any combination: 

The European Union has included the adoption of models in line with the principles of the Circular Economy as one of its strategic priorities, because it represents an opportunity for growth and development in terms of competitiveness, innovation, environment and job creation.

  • competitiveness: business models that are less dependent on the use of raw materials contribute to a cost structure that is less exposed to the risky price volatility caused by market dynamics and regulatory interventions. Recent estimates suggest that potential benefits by 2030 will include a reduction of 17-24% in resource use, savings of 630 billion euros a year and 3.9% growth in European GDP
  • innovation: rethinking business models for a circular approach creates a strong push towards innovation: digitalisation allows businesses to rethink their processes and open up to new opportunities in every business sector
  • environment: limiting environmental impact is an important factor in reducing waste and atmospheric pollution and in controlling global heating, as outlined in the Paris Accords
  • job: reducing the amount of raw materials used plus the growth of value-added services should shift the balance of cost structures from raw materials to ‘work’, i.e. from more automated sectors towards those linked prevalently to human activity (services, maintenance, repair work).

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