Circular Economy

Authors: Walter R Stahel

Date of publish: March 2016

Why did we select this research?

Circular economy business models fall in two groups: those that foster reuse and extend service life through repair, remanufacture, upgrades and retrofits; and those that turn old goods into as-new resources by recycling the materials.

Key findings:

  • Research and innovation are needed at all levels (social, technological and commercial). Economists and environmental and materials scientists need to assess the ecological impacts and costs and benefits of products.
  • Communication and information strategies are needed to raise the awareness of manufacturers and the public about their responsibility for products throughout their service lives.
  • Role of policy and policymakers preparing the new playground rules (like internalization of external costs, such as emissions and pollution, should be rewarded; stewardship should overrule ownership and its right to destroy).
  • The role of internet and The Internet of Things (in which everyday objects are digitally connected) and Industry 4.0 (intelligent technical systems for mass production) will boost such a shift, but also demand a policy review that considers questions of ownership and liability of data and goods.


Stahel, W. R. (2016). The circular economy. Nature News, 531(7595), 435.