Linear Economy - An Unsustainable Posture for the Planet

Atualizado: 20 de Mar de 2020

The production model through a linear system, in which industries use the materials in a TAKE-MAKE-DISPOSE logic, almost didn’t evolve since the Industrial Revolution. The adoption of this model on a large scale has led to an increasing scarcity of resources and consequent volatility of raw material prices. Linear Economy can lead to high risks for companies and has irreversible consequences for public health, environment and living beings.

Linear Economy

The Linear Economy, the model that currently prevails in our societies, almost didn’t evolve since the Industrial Revolution. In this model, the organizations and industries extract the materials and resources from nature and produce their products to be discarded, normally after a very brief period. This TAKE-MAKE-DISPODE logic is completely blind to the planet's capacity to regenerate what is extracted and to the impacts that have occurred in this process, such as the degradation of several ecosystems, greenhouse gases emissions, deterioration of public health, biodiversity loss and species extinction. The waste that is produced mostly ends up in landfills or incinerated (1). In Europe, it's estimated that only 40% of waste is recycled, with major discrepancies between member countries (2). In this system, countless resources with high economic potential for the economy are lost and irreparable damage is caused to the soil, air, oceans and living beings (3).

"The Economy must evolve in the sense of having as its main resources, those that are growing and abundant, like people and their knowledge (4)."

In the Linear Economy, the end-life of a product represents the end of its economic potential, but also the end of all investment, effort, work and negative consequences generated with it. In 2010, about 65 billion tons of raw material entered the economy, and it is expected that by 2020 this number will grow to 82 billion. In addition, the growing demand for raw materials has proved to be a major risk factor for organizations, as it generates high volatility in prices and in the long run it may even mean that there are not enough resources to meet production needs, necessary to satisfy the demand (3).

Considering that the majority of resources are finite and often used well above the land's regenerative capacity, humanity must find new models that will allow us to thrive with Nature, instead of exploring it in a destructive way. The Economy must evolve towards having as its main resources those that are growing and abundant, as is the case with people and knowledge (4).


Author: Mariana Pinto e Costa (Co-founder BeeCircular)

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(1) Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Towards The Circular Economy: Accelerating the scale-ip across global supply chains, EMF, London, 2014

(2) European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Closing the loop – An EU action plan for the Circular Economy, CE, Bruxelles, 2015

(3) Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Towards The Circular Economy: Economic and business rationale for accelerated transition, EMF, London, 2013

(4) Making the Circular Economy Work for Human Development - Available on:

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