Section 3.1: Business, the economy and sustainability
Section 3.2: Linear economy and the limits to linear consumption
Section 3.3: Changing business contexts and the imperative to act
Section 3.4: Closing the loop – towards a circular economy
Section 3.5: Circular economy in practice
3.5.1 Leakages from dispersed geographical distribution
3.5.2 Leakages from material complexity
With increasingly complex products, more leakage occurs. For example, plastics have steadily increased the number of new polymers created over the past few decades. Plastics now have many additives such as heat stabilizers, pigments, flame retardants, anti-microbials and impact modifiers to meet changing market demands for materials.
The complexity of these new materials makes it very difficult (even for manufacturers) to identify, separate, and maintain the quality and purity of each component at a sufficient level for recovery and reuse at a profitable margin. Because of this, it is difficult for businesses to justify the investment needed to close the loop. Leakages of complex materials and products lead to significant material losses, as seen below.