The savings from increased recycling and reuse of resources amounts to about $1 trillion by 2025.*
For more than two centuries, humanity’s use of natural resources basically stayed the same: take, make and throw away. By 2020, however, businesses adopt a new approach, viewing the resources as assets instead of inputs, and their customers as users rather than buyers. In this model, companies realize it makes little business sense to discard assets after only one product cycle, and instead strive to continually re-acquire and reintroduce these assets to market. CEOs and product designers attempt to maximize the value of their products by focusing on questions such as “How can we design our products with asset recovery in mind?” and “How can we obtain source material in regenerative loops instead of linear flows?”
*”Towards the Circular Economy,” World Economic Forum, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_ENV_TowardsCircularEconomy_Report_2014.pdf.
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3D printing and the circular economy
3D printing contributes to the growth of the circular economy. Researchers at Michigan Technological University created the Recyclebot. It uses the RepRap self-replicating 3-D printer to first transform plastic waste into plastic filament and then create the end product. Michigan Tech is also testing a portable, solar-powered 3-D printer. Combining the two technologies could potentially create a self-sufficient production tool.