In recent years, the term “Circular Economy” has gained significant attention as a sustainable pathway towards resource efficiency and waste reduction. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, depletion of natural resources, and increasing waste production, the circular economy presents a viable alternative to the traditional “take-make-dispose” linear economy. 

We explore what a circular economy is, why and how we should shift towards it. 

What is a Circular Economy?

A circular economy is an economic model that aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, minimise waste, and regenerate natural systems. In a circular economy, the focus is on designing products, processes, and systems that prioritise sustainability, extend resource life cycle and reduce environmental impact. This is achieved through the application of the ‘5Rs principle’: refuse, reform, reduce, reuse, and recycle.


This approach mitigates the environmental impact of human activity and encourages more efficient and careful resource usage.

While the concept of a circular economy is relevant to our daily lives, it can be challenging to apply in practice.

Why and How to Shift Towards a Circular Economy?

The transition to a circular economy is vital to creating a sustainable future. Not only does it provide a solution to environmental damage and resource depletion, it offers economic benefits like job creation, increased competitiveness, and reduced costs.

Shifting to a circular economy requires a multi-faceted approach involving policymakers, businesses, and consumers. Policymakers can incentivise the adoption of circular economy principles through regulations and subsidies. Businesses can integrate circular economy principles into their operations by rethinking their supply chain, design, and production processes. Consumers can also play a role by making conscious choices to reduce waste, reuse and recycle products.

For the large energy intensive businesses, the first step towards a circular economy is to conduct a material flow analysis. Assess the energy, resources and materials used by your business, identify your waste streams (including waste energy), and analyse opportunities for circularity. 

Once material flow is understood, businesses can adopt circular design principles that prioritise the reuse and recycling of materials throughout the product lifecycle. This can include the redesigning of products to be more durable and modular, or making them easier to repair, reuse, and recycle components.

Implementing closed-loop systems within the value chain is another way to help reduce waste and optimise resource use in the industry. This could involve recycling energy and wastewater, using by-products as inputs for other processes, or implementing a take-back program for end-of-life products.

Mumford Commercial Consulting, in collaboration with other businesses such as EnergyLink Services, have undertaken multiple client studies that identify circular economy opportunities.  Most of these client studies remain confidential, but include small start-up entrepreneurial clients looking at business development opportunities right through to multinational clients that are seeking to meet global corporate sustainability initiatives at a local Australian level. These studies often highlight multiple millions of dollars in potential client savings and opportunities for value adding through expansion into new products and markets, often which progress to the initiation of new project ventures.

The circular economy presents a sustainable pathway towards resource efficiency and waste reduction. Energy intensive industries can play a significant role in promoting circular economy principles through sustainable practices in their operations. 

If you’re ready to start your journey towards a circular economy, we can guide you through the process and support your transition to a more sustainable, circular business model. 


Pedro Fernandes, 2020