All text and images below are sourced directly from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation at
In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. The model distinguishes between technical and biological cycles.
Consumption happens only in biological cycles, where food and biologically-based materials (such as cotton or wood) are designed to feed back into the system through processes like composting and anaerobic digestion. These cycles regenerate living systems, such as soil, which provide renewable resources for the economy.
Technical cycles recover and restore products, components, and materials through strategies like reuse, repair, remanufacture or (in the last resort) recycling. The infographic below shows the overall circular economy system and where remanufacturing fits in.