Circular Economy is not a new concept. It refers back to the omnipresent material cycles in our environment. Circular Economy is aiming at utilising resources with an inherent everlasting use. The current economy system however has diverged from these most natural processes. It is a most prominent challenge of today’s societies to take action against these economic dysfunctions.
The European Commission invests great means and supports contributions regarding research and applications in the field of circular economy. Furthermore, policies have been developed in recent years to implement the concept in various areas like the waste framework directive (2008/98/EC) with its end of waste, the extended producer responsibility and the new circular economy package, released on the 2nd of Decemeber 2015. Strategies for sustainable development and sustainable use of resources have become a crucial role.
There are 4 founding principles of circular economy:
- waste = food
- diversity is strength
- energy must come from renewable sources
- systems thinking (see below)
These principles are among others transposed by following strategies:
- Cradle to Cradle (alchemia-nova is partner, see description below)
- Biomimicry (see description below)
- Industrial symbiosis (see description below)
- Regenerative and restorative agriculture (see description below)
- Blue Economy (Link to blueeconomy.eu)
- Economy for the Common Good (see description below)
> Cradle to Cradle
The next industrial revolution
The revolutionary Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) concept was originally instituted by the chemist and process engineer Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough. In Europe this visionary application started with EPEA Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency GmbH in Hamburg. alchemia-nova is an official partner institute from EPEA.
Products that are designed and produced according to these principles serve at the end of their life cycle always as a nutrient for new high-quality options of usage, thus resources circulate constantly in loops. Waste as a category no longer exists. The end result are highly profitable products for humans and nature, which anticipate environmental standards of the future already today. The concept of Cradle to Cradle is a sustainable strategy to equip a variety of products without any kind of toxic chemicals that enable value creation within a natural cycle. This means not the increase in efficiency, minimizing the harmful effect, but the actual delivery of nutrients, which can be utilised in biological and technological processes in a useful manner (Michael Braungart & William McDonough , 2008). Thus, by clever design in the development of the product all the components of a product will be chemically and technologically designed that a re-use after the first cycle of the product life is completely realisable.
Cradle to Cradle® is based on these principles
- Waste = Food: Everything is a nutrient for something else
- Celebrate diversity: species richness, cultural diversity and innovation
- Use current solar income: energy and material resources are used only to the extent that they can be regenerated
These principles support both ways of the metabolism of a product or process, the biological and the technical nutrient cycle. Materials of products that are optimised for the biological cycles, serve as biological nutrients and may be safely released into the environment. Materials of products that are designed for closed technical cycles serve as technical nutrients (for example, metals and various polymers). These materials are not to introduce into biological cycles. The C2C design protocol, designed by McDonough and Braungart, provides these circuits for each product in further detail. They also describe the added value for all stakeholders involved. Quality and value improvement are the cornerstones of the C2C concept, which simultaneously constitute the fundamental differences to conventional interpretations of sustainability.
> Systems Thinking
Get the full picture
The Circular Economy concept is largely based on a systemic or holistic thinking approach. Processes that are inherent in and across systems as well as their relation are understood as a whole. This holistic approach demands for a certain methodological transdisciplinarity in research practice. Transdisciplinarity in this sense is more than a simple exchange between research disciplines (interdisciplinarity) and demonstrates the relativity of these constructed boundaries. Finally, transdisciplinarity may prevent that institutional boundaries also become the knowledge boundaries of our societies.
Systems thinking or system theory aims at counteracting the ongoing fragmentation of knowledge into scientific disciplines, not at least to take the complexity of reality into account. Solutions to societal challenges that are based upon systems thinking are therefore more resilient and sustainable.
Following elements of systems thinking demand particular consideration:
- dynamics and complexity
- flows of engery, material and information
- interactions and overlapping with other systems
The term Biomimicry refers to the words bios (life) and mimesis (imitate). The idea of this new science is to use processes, forms and strategies from nature as a model in order to find solutions to human challenges. It is important to not only copy nature, but to understand the processes going on and then use this awareness accordingly. The question still remains, why contact nature? After 3.8 billion years of researching and developing and even failing at some points, nature had had time to find solutions to problems, humans also are grippling with , and still be in accordance with its surroundings and the whole ecosystem. Biomimicry 3.8 already invented methods how Biomimicry canbe applied in everydays life. “The Biomimicry framework is composed of three aspects:
(re-)connect refers to spending time in nature, observingits patterns and processes and learning from this observation.
Ethos concerns the mandate of working toward systemicsustainability and adhering to 26 life principles, patterns found in nature.
Emulate involves the Biomimicry Thinking Design Process thatevolves in four phases: scoping, discovering, creating, and evaluating.” 
 Center for Biologically Inspired Design, Lenard Yen,June 2017, http://www.cbid.gatech.edu/biomimicry_defined.html
 Regina Rowland, Regina Rowland, June 2017, http://www.reginarowland.com/bio-innovation/
> Industrial symbiosis
Residual streams of one industry are nutrients for the other
„Industry and industrial processes act as converter of natural resources into products and services. Industry has an impact on environmental pollution throughout the whole life cycle of a product”. In order to ensure industrial sustainability one concept of industrial ecology is industrial symbiosis . Industrial symbiosis shall demonstrate the analogy to ecological systems, where symbiosis and exchange are advantages. A well-known example is the industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg (Denmark). The unification of different enterprises and public bodies made a further utilisation of by-products possible by closing material cycles. This further caused also economic benefits for the participating companies .
So, by incorporating such a concept, lodgment or incineration of waste can be avoided as well as primary raw materials or rather energy sources can be preserved . In order to realise industrial symbiosis, prerequisites are the technical possibility of exchange of production results and input materials as well as a cooperative relationship .
 Industrial Ecology-Erfolgreiche Wege zu nachhaltigen industriellen Systemen; Arnim von Gleich, Stefan Gößling-Reisemann; 1.Auflage 2008; Wiesbaden
 Formate zur Unterstützung von Transformations- und Innovationsprozessen in Unternehmen; Helena Mölter, Georg Kobiela, Daniel Vallentin, Timon Wehnert;
 Zwischenbetriebliche Rückstandsverwertung-Kooperationen für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung am Beispiel industrieller Verwertungsnetze; Alfred Posch; 1.Auflage 2006; Wiesbaden
> Regenerative / restorative agriculture /permaculture
Farming practices that create ecosystems
Using agricultural methods to get carbon dioxide from the atmosphere back to the soil is known under the term regenerative agriculture . Restorative agriculture is used to build up organic material and revive biodiversity in the soil. In order to achieve this, methods, that support the soil microbiome, reduce input and output of nutrients and enhance growth of plants, are used accordingly to surrounding conditions .
The original derivation of permaculture is “permanent agriculture“, representing a wholistic concept for a sustainable life (economic, ecological and social) . Permaculture is a planning system in order to create  life-supportive cycles . The aim is to create systems that cover demands, while neither exploiting nor polluting, therefore being sustainable on the long-term. Nature and natural ecosystems are role models. Elements shall be combined in a way that a productive system can develop which is not only stable and robust and has a use for human needs but also forms a living space and food source for animals and plants. Important principles for planning are that one element fulfils more functions and one function should be provided by more elements . Restorative agriculture can also be applied underwater. 3D Ocean Farming is one example. An underwater-garden is created by growing kelp and mussels on floating ropes while having oyster and clam cages on the seabed below. Kelp is known as „rainforest of the sea“ with which a high yield can be realized since it is fast-growing . It can soak up to 5 times more carbon than land-based plants and therefore they can be seen as environmentally friendly source of food . Thanks to the filtering characteristics from shellfish and seaweed of drawing out nitrogen, quality of water may also be improved.
Other areas of restorative agriculture can be operated by using waste water, like for example at the extensive fish farm Veta la Palma in Spain. Through a system of canals and pumps, water is distributed among separate ponds. Apart from only sometimes controlling the amount of the input stream, water is treated and cleaned by plant-based and animal organisms living in the ponds and by some birds from outside the water and then brought back into the water cycle .
Future applications might concern fertigation (fertilisation and irrigation) of agricultural processes by using anthropogenic waste water and therefore saving drinking water and reducing the use of fertilizers. Challenges could be the treatment of waste water and waste flows in order to enable uptake of nutrients for plants.
 Transition Town Bielefeld e.V., Gerd Wessling, June 2017, http://www.ttbielefeld.de/content/gesundheit-aus-dem-boden-vortrag-von-dr-ute-scheub-forum-offene-wissenschaft
 Humusrevolution, Stefan Schwarzer, June 2017, http://www.humusrevolution.de/neudefinition-der-regenerativen-agrikultur-2/
 LebensraumPermakultur, Stefan Schwarzer, June 2017, http://lebensraum-permakultur.de/permakultur/
 Perma-Norikum,Bernhard Gruber, June 2017, https://permanorikum.wordpress.com/about/definition/
 AutarcaMatricultura, Claudia von Werlhof, März 2016, http://www.matricultura.org/pdf/Permakultur_Defnitition_Ethik_Prinzipien_Original_Erweitert.pdf
 LebensraumPermakultur, Stefan Schwarzer, June 2017, http://lebensraum-permakultur.de/permakultur/
 Kickstarter, Bren Smith, June 2017, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greenwave/3-d-ocean-farming-saving-our-seas?lang=de
 Eatglobe, Michael Friedländer, June 2017, http://www.eatglobe.com/news/farming/797-farming-3-d-ocean-farming.html
 Die Zeit, Wolfgang Lechner, Juni 2012, http://www.vetalapalma.es/publi/101_DIE%20ZEIT.pdf
> Economy for the common good
Better than More
Economy for the common good is an alternative economic system built on common good-enhancing values. This economy is a tool for economic, political and social level – a bridge to a better future.
In economic terms, it is a livable, workable concrete option for companies of different sizes and legal forms. The purpose of economic activity and the assessment of the companies’ success can be defined in terms of public welfare – oriented values.
On the political level, the movement for an economy of the common good will bring change to current legislation. Ambition of the commitment is to ensure a good life for all living beings and for the planet as a whole, supported by a sustainable economic system. Human dignity, global fairness and solidarity, ecological sustainability, social justice, and democratic participation are at the top of the agenda.
On the societal level, the movement for an economy of the common good is an initiative to raise awareness for systematic change, to motivate as many people as possible to cooperative, conscientious action. It is a source of hope and courage and seeks network and mutual stimulation with other alternative initiatives.
It is an open, participative process with a grassroots structure and a global scope.