2 min read

Difference between Sustainability and Circular Economy

Feb 21, 2022

When it comes to sustainability most people are familiar with the concept of the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle, but how do those relate to a circular economy?


By definition sustainability is “the ability to maintain or sustain'' which inherently is about making things more efficient. However being more efficient doesn’t necessarily mean regenerative and often means doing “less bad” such as using less energy or reducing material usage.

Circular economy, while part of a sustainability journey, is a framework that focuses on being more effective with resources vs just more efficient. To be more effective we have to fundamentally rethink our products and processes.

The circular economy is based on three principles, driven by design first thinking :

  1. Eliminate waste 
  2. Keep product and materials in use
  3. Regenerate nature

In the current linear economy of take-make-waste, we take resources, produce, consume and generate waste.  In a circular economy, by contrast, we focus on eliminating waste before it’s even produced. To do this we must transform our thinking and our processes: from how we manage resources to how we use products, and then what we do with the materials afterwards.

This is enabled through circular design and implementing reverse logistics and sourcing that allows for the repurposing of products through renting, sharing, refurbishing, reselling and as a last option, recycling.

As per the The World Economic Forum’s Definition “A circular economy is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.” While many sustainability efforts are more about making the current process less bad, circularity is about intentionally and systemically making things better.


If you want to learn more about circular economy and start incorporating circulairty into your organization's sustainability journey to not only do good, but do better you can get started here

As part of our vision of enabling a circular economy for businesses, Found & Seek offers training, consultation, and door to door repurposing services helping organizations not only save time and money when managing their assets but also make an impact.