Slowing and narrowing resource flows as part of circular economy business strategies

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Circular economy is currently getting a lot of attention among businesses as environmental strategy, because it is said to be restorative and regenerative by design.
However, circular economy is not without shortcomings as strategy for sustainable development. A circular economy with main focus on closing material flows through recycling has limited value for both businesses and society. In order to contribute to substantial reductions in resource consumption, then it is necessary to understand the dynamics of the present linear economy and the speed and volume of the resource flows by questioning what we produce and why products lose value to their users and become waste. Additionally, a narrowing and slowing of the resource flows are also on the agenda as part of a circular economy. The paper is analyzing to what extent it is a practice, a challenge or a potential for businesses to slow down resource flows by prolonging the product lifetime and narrowing the resource flows by optimizing and reducing the use of materials.
Three redesign processes with focus on redesign of services, redesign of value chain relations and redesign of the internal business organization have been investigated within a Danish research project based on cooperation with 20 businesses about analyses of potentials and barriers to circular economy as part of their business strategies. In 11 of the businesses initiatives were identified or developed aiming at prolonging product life time and reducing the amount of necessary products. These cases covered clothes with long product life time and product repair and of drinking water equipment, prolonging lifetime of a rescue product by instructing the users in better product use and offering product take-back, long product life time and considerations about product take-back and refurbishment of furniture, use of roof-top windows for re-purposing and multi-purposing of buildings and thereby increasing lifetime and use of buildings, developing leasing and product-service-system for furniture for schools, use of second quality grade vegetables, and increasing resource effectiveness of textile service through optimization of speed and size of the textile flow.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date30 Jun 2018
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018
EventThird International Conference of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI) - Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 27 Jun 201830 Jun 2018


ConferenceThird International Conference of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI)
LocationCopenhagen Business School


  • circular economy
  • business strategy
  • slowing resource flows
  • narrowing resource flows

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