June 28, 2017

A Circular Vision for Sustainable Growth: How Companies are Building a New 21st Century Economy

Welcome to the New Economy

By Jennifer Gerholdt, Senior Director, Sustainability and Circular Economy Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Corporate Citizenship Center

Note: The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or its affiliates.

The circular economy – an economic, performance based model focused on designing and manufacturing products, components and materials for reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling – promises big opportunities for the private sector to drive new and better growth and accelerate innovation. Shifting to the circular economy could release $4.5 trillion in new economic potential by 2030, according to Accenture forecasts. But how do we take the vision of a circular economy – which imagines a world without waste – and translate that into profitable and scalable action and best practice?

We are pleased to release this second circular economy case study report featuring examples of how the private sector is doing just that – translating circular aspiration into action that drives greater resource productivity improvements, eliminates waste and inefficiency, and contributes to a stronger, more competitive economy.

Why is moving to the circular economy important? The linear take-make-waste economy is no longer sustainable. Resource constraints, rapid population growth, price volatility, uncertain commodity markets, shifting consumer preferences and attitudes, and more are prompting a shift to the circular economy—a more viable and profitable alternative to the linear model that decouples economic growth from resource constraints.

As you will learn in this report, companies of all sizes from across a variety of sectors and industries are embedding circular principles throughout their core business and value chains, helping them accelerate innovation and progress that enhances the bottom line, supports vibrant cities and communities, and protects or improves ecosystems.

At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we provide a pre-competitive environment to learn, share, network, and collaborate to drive progress and achieve a circular economy. It is our goal you will find in this report new inspiration and tangible solutions for mainstreaming the circular economy in your organization and bringing those approaches to scale.

In circularity,

Chapter 1: Circular Design

Chapter 2: Manufacturing

Chapter 3: Product Life Extension

Chapter 4: Recycling

Chapter 5: Regenerative Biological Nutrient Cycles

Chapter 6: Recovery and Reuse

Chapter 7: Reverse Logistics