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  • Writer's pictureRichard Plumpton | ii |

Is The Circular Economy on the Verge of Becoming Mainstream?

[Image: Developing a Circular Economy | © inmago]

With its origins stretching back to a seminal 1966 paper by Boulding, it was only really when the Ellen MacArthur Foundation was established in 2010 that the ideas behind the Circular Economy began to properly take hold.

Fast forward 14 years and we might just be about to see the Circular Economy move from the fringes of economic theory firmly into the mainstream of economic reality.

Much of this progress has been driven by the single-minded vision and determination of Ellen MacArthur, who was inspired to try and do her part to move the world towards a sustainable economic model during her solo sailing voyage around the world in 2005. If you haven't heard her describe the moment she had her epiphany that led to her devotion to growing the Circular Economy, it's worth watching it here.

Ellen created a Foundation in her name on her retirement from sailing in 2010, and it quickly grew to be a thought-leader that is constantly striving to place the Circular Economy concept front and centre with decision-makers in Government, Business and Academia around the world.

Standing at the start line of yet another new year, I find myself digging a bit deeper into the current state of the Circular Economy as a potential socio-economic model for all our futures, seeing glimpses of the concept becoming a mainstream model for economic development right across the world.

One of these glimpses is very close to my new home on the far south coast of New South Wales, as the Bega Valley is starting to accelerate its own transition to becoming one of the most circular regions in the world, whilst also acting as a 'lighthouse' for other regions looking to make their own transitions.

Most recently this saw the announcement of plans to create a National Centre for Circularity in Bega as a way of showcasing the circular economy projects underway and planned in the region, and educating & inspiring others on the potential future that the Circular Economy could help support.

The Bega Circular Valley initiative that the planned Centre is a part of is underpinned by a seriously ambitious vision of 'becoming Australia's most circular valley by 2030'. While this may be a stretch to achieve in the next 6 years, just the very act of setting out to try and achieve it will set the Valley up for a rapid and exciting transition towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

Changing our current linear economy to a circular one is clearly a complex, multi-generational task, but is a task that is made ever more critical by the increasing impacts of climate change and bio-diversity loss, and the existential challenge we face of feeding and watering a human population on its way to 9 billion.

Finding a way to personally contribute to the creation of a more sustainable future often feels overwhelming, but I for one will be doing all I can to support those looking to build 'the world's most circular valley' in my new backyard.

To learn more about the Circular Economy and it's potential to help build a low-carbon future for us all, you could do worse than delve into The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's library of publications, available here.


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