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A new economic model promises to deliver on the triple bottom line and build economic, natural and social capital. So what is it, and how does it differ from the linear approach that has led us to the verge of economic and environmental collapse?

Our current economic model is linear - we seek out natural resources, then take, make and dispose. The result is waste, on a massive scale. This is a pattern unseen in nature, where there is no waste, only cycling (except in the sun, which will ultimately collapse). Imagine instead that when we buy a phone or car all the components are modular and reusable - the unit is not designed to eventually be discarded. The phone is already available (though not in Australia), it's called the Fairphone. The manufacturers source conflict-free tin, tungsten and tantalum and Fairtrade gold.

The Circular Economy model aims to make all aspects of production fair and truly sustainable - a closed loop, rather than using landfill as the final destination. Resources, both natural and human, are viewed as being valuable and worthy of nurture, rather than cheap and disposable. Modelling suggests the approach will save hundreds of billions of dollars, provide jobs, and slow thevdepletion of finite resources.

Critics say the social equity improvements should not be assumed, consumption and production may actually increase, and companies that are used to competing will not reach the necessary levels of collaboration. For more explanation see The Circular Economy - An Explainer, a research paper from the Parliament of Victoria.


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