System thinking at the core of Circular Economy – new publication

Zurich, 10 April 2014 Today, the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW) and WRF published a brochure on Circular Economy.

Global consumption of natural resources, and with it the scarcity of natural resources and the total amount of waste due to consumption, have increased significantly throughout recent decades. The sustainable handling of natural resources is not simply a question of technology, ecology and waste management but also includes economic, social, political, cultural and ethical aspects. The optimisation of entire processes and systems rather than single components becomes increasingly important.

This “systems thinking” is at the core of the concept of Circular Economy. The brochure “Circular Economy – Improving the Management of Natural Resources” gives an insight into the current implementation of Circular Economy at national level by presenting three country case studies and their different approaches to achieving the same goal of a more sustainable planet.

China, besides being a huge economy, has the political power for a top-down approach to shape a completely restructured industrial and social system. Germany on the other hand is subject to external constraints in the form of EU directives along with national, regional and local demands. Switzerland adopts a step-by-step approach based on finding solutions through the involvement of all stakeholders.

The publication includes a section “Analysis and Comparison”, where the three countries are investigated according to a number of indicators and consideration is given to the kind of indicators that could serve for a meaningful annual audit of countries’ Circular Economy performance. In the concluding section recommendations for possible future actions to take relevant steps towards the vision of a Circular Economy are given.

Please find the PDF-version of the brochure on Circular Economy here.