The circular economy

It sounds like a shell game, but as Ben Schiller explains at Fast Co.Exist, it could pave the way for a lower-waste economy:

Important question: How can we maintain global prosperity when natural resources are increasingly scarce, the planet is in increasing disrepair, and 3 billion people are expected to join the “middle class” by 2030?

According to a fascinating new report, the answer is a “circular economy,” where materials and products are restored and regenerated much more widely, and where the emphasis is on leasing, renting, and sharing, rather than consumption and ownership.

The problem I with the circular economy is that it seems heavily dependent on leasing and renting, both of which run counter to our seemingly innate desire to own. (It’s one of the reasons music subscription services like Rhapsody failed against the ownership model of iTunes. Never heard of Rhapsody? Exactly.)

Leasing and renting can also be notoriously expensive. Previously, durable goods could last a lifetime or more and only had to be purchased once. Granted many of the appurtenances of modern life are obsolete in a few years, but leasing arrangements will likely result in higher costs to consumers. Why else would big companies like Cisco and Renault commission the study?

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