The role of Circular economy in a sustainable resource nexus
Global warming and the security of food, energy and water, are undoubtedly going to dominate this century’s agenda. The challenge of the sustainability agenda will be to feed and comfort our growing and changing societies under stable social conditions without exploiting the biosphere. But how and where does the Circular Economy fit in this turmoil? And what’s the role of Waste Management? This conceptual paper shows that at this moment the concept of circular economy only plays a marginal role and it mostly focuses on solid waste management related subjects. On the other hand, it contends that circular economy has the potential to augment the global agenda if three conditions are met. The first one is that Circular Economy has to adopt a broad resource nexus approach, including minerals, energy, food, water, land and the biosphere as a whole. In doing so it will be able to cover the entire definition of environmental sustainability and it would prevent Circular Economy from just shifting adverse effects instead of solving them. The second condition is that Circular Economy has to acknowledge the achievements of Waste Management as our society can’t afford to replace one by the other. And the third one is that Circular Economy has to shift the emphasis from circularity to economy because the economy is, together with population growth, the driving force behind resource depletion.