The current environmental issues we face demonstrate that we need to find a new way of doing things – we need to move from a linear economy to a circular economy.
In a linear economy we take virgin materials, make them into ever increasing numbers of consumer products, use them for their useful life and then discard them into landfill.
In a circular economy we keep products in high value economic use for as long as possible. If someone is finished with a product it is reused by someone else. If a product is broken it is repaired. If a product cannot be reused, then its materials which are also valuable resources are recycled.
The waste hierarchy provides a way of thinking about resources. From a circular economy perspective sending resources to landfill should be the lowest priority option. The environmental impact is minimised at the top of the waste hierarchy as shown below.