A circular economy is an economic system based on regenerating natural resources and systems and eliminating waste and pollution. Where and how can we start? Here are 10 books that will help you dive into this regenerative process.
1. Cradle to cradle – remaking the way we make things
Authors: William McDonough and Michael Braungart Cradle to Cradle is a key book about the circular economy that has made a significant contribution to popularizing the idea of eco-design amongst not only the general public but also industry and policymakers. The book advocates an industrial model that consists of designing products from the outset with a view to endlessly recycling them; a model based on a kind of composting that allows waste to return to the soil in the form of "organic nutrients" or to the industry as "technical nutrients".
2. The Circular Economy: A Wealth of Flows
Author: Ken Webster
A circular economy has profound consequences for production, employment, education, money, and finance but also induces a shift in public policy and taxation. The economic advantage of this model lies in designing out waste, enabling access over ownership, favouring radical resources productivity, with the prospect of rebuilding natural capital and resilience. This revised volume contains one entirely new chapter, and with a foreword by Ellen MacArthur and contributions from Walter Stahel from the Product-Life Institute, Geneva and Jocelyn Blériot, Executive Officer at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, it expands on the role of digital; how the economy really works and how we can act within it.
3. Waste to Wealth – The Circular Economy Advantage
Authors: Peter Lacy and Jakob Rutqvist Written by two Accenture executives, the book presents the advantages of the circular economy as a powerful - and inevitable - model for tackling the current challenges against the backdrop of shrinking resources. The authors also suggest strategies to protect the environment while also generating profit by analyzing several examples of companies that have sought to extend the life of their products by taking a circular growth approach.
4. Products That Last
The book offers readers an innovative and practical methodology to unravel a product’s afterlife and systematically evaluate it for new opportunities. It introduces business models that enable us to benefit from the opportunities offered by a much longer product life. Products that Last changes the way designers and entrepreneurs develop and exploit goods, helping reduce material and energy consumption over time. Nothing more, nothing less.
5. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Authors: Janine M Benyus
Janine Benyus takes readers into the lab and in the field with maverick thinkers as they: discover miracle drugs by watching what chimps eat when they're sick; learn how to create by watching spiders weave fibres; harness energy by examining how a leaf converts sunlight into fuel in trillionths of a second; and many more examples.
Composed of stories of vision and invention, personalities and pipe dreams, Biomimicry is a must-read for anyone interested in the shape of our future.
6. The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular
Authors: Tom Szaky
Steered by Tom Szaky, recycling pioneer, eco-capitalist, and founder and CEO of TerraCycle, each chapter is coauthored by an expert in his or her field. From the distinct perspectives of government leaders, consumer packaged goods companies, waste management firms, and more, the book explores current issues of production and consumption, practical steps for improving packaging and reducing waste today, and big ideas and concepts that can be carried forward. Intended to help every business from a small start-up to a large established consumer product company, this book serves as a source of knowledge and inspiration. The message from these pioneers is not to scale back but to innovate upward. They offer nothing less than a guide to designing ourselves out of waste and into abundance.
7. Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking. While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.
8. The Circular Economy – A User’s Guide
Author: Walter R. Stahel
A Circular Economy seeks to rebuild capital, whether this is financial, manufactured, human, social or natural, and offers opportunities and solutions for all organisations. This work is both a legacy and a forward-looking exploration. It delves into themes like the Performance economy, product-as-service, policy, producers liability, and explores the circular economy under two major lenses; the era of R - Reuse, Remanufacture, Repair, etc, and the era of D - Depolymerise, De-alloy, De-vulcanise, etc, or the management of stocks of atoms and molecules.
9. The Circular Economy and the Global South: Sustainable Lifestyles and Green Industrial Development
Authors: Patrick Schröder, Manisha Anantharaman, Kartika Anggraeni and Timothy J. Foxon
This volume highlights examples of circular economy practices in developing country contexts in relation to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), informal sector recycling and national policy approaches. It examines a broad range of case studies, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, and Thailand, and illustrates how the circular economy can be used as a new lens and possible solution to cross-cutting development issues of pollution and waste, employment, health, urbanisation and green industrialisation. In addition to more technical and policy-oriented contributions, the book also critically discusses existing narratives and pathways of the circular economy in the global North and South, and how these differ or possibly even conflict with each other.
10. Designing for the Circular Economy
Author: Martin Charter
The thirty-four chapters provide a comprehensive overview of issues related to product circularity from policy through to design and development. Chapters are designed to be easy to digest and include numerous examples. An important feature of the book is the case studies section that covers a diverse range of topics related to CE, business models and design and development in sectors ranging from construction to retail, clothing, technology and manufacturing.
Designing for the Circular Economy will inform and educate any companies seeking to move their business models towards these emerging models of sustainability; organizations already working in the circular economy can benchmark their current activities and draw inspiration from new applications and an understanding of the changing social and political context. This book will appeal to both academia and business with an interest in CE issues related to products, innovation and new business models.
About the Author
Piyush Dhawan (LinkedIn) is the co-founder of the Circular Collective was awarded the prestigious German Chancellor Fellowship last year to work on the topic of Circular Economy. He has for the past decade been working with Bilaterals and Multilaterals on a range of topics including business and biodiversity, Vision 2030 SDGs and Future of Indian Cities