Back to overview

A circular economy within the planetary boundaries: Towards a resource-based, systemic approach

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Desing Harald, Brunner Dunia, Takacs Fabian, Nahrath Stéphane, Frankenberger Karolin, Hischier Roland,
Project Laboratory for Applied Circular Economy (LACE)
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume (Issue) 155
Page(s) 104673 - 104673
Title of proceedings Resources, Conservation and Recycling
DOI 10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.104673

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


Circular Economy (CE) is the buzzword of today, promising an economy able to prosper on limited resources by closing material cycles. However, there is no guarantee that simple strategies of material cycling, as propagated by the various definitions of this concept, will indeed lead to an economy able to manage the world's resources, pollution and societal demand within environmentally sustainable levels. Based on the shortcomings of the present mainstream definitions of CE, this paper proposes an integrative, cascading, resource-based approach aimed at an environmentally sustainable and socially beneficial economy. The international community agrees on the necessity to maintain the current environmental equilibrium to ensure equity for future generations and to allow human well-being and dignity already in the present. Accordingly, physical and environmental limitations are identified, that are to be observed to make CE sustainable. This paper then suggests that a transition towards a sustainable resource-based CE goes hand in hand with a paradigm shift in the way environmental considerations are perceived by individuals, codified in different normative frameworks and dealt with by private companies. It therefore opens the discussion by underlying some challenges that could appear in the view of transitioning to CE.