Book: Transitioning to a circular economy

We are living on a finite planet. Mankind is overstepping planetary boundaries, however. In 2021, worldwide consumption exceeded the yearly bio-capacity of the Earth (what we call the overshoot day) on the 29th of July. The situation is far worse for industrialized countries: In 2022, Belgium reached that overshoot day on the 26th of March.

The book “Transitioning to a circular economy” has been published online and is freely accessible on the Open Acces platform. The editors are Jean Mansuy,  Giulia Caterina Verga, Bonno Pel, Maarten Messagie, Philippe Lebeau, Wouter Achten, Ahmed Zaib Khan, and Cathy Macharis. 

In the face of these urgent challenges of sustainable resource use, there is broad agreement on the need for a transition, a fundamental societal shift, towards, amongst others, a circular economy (CE), the book’s focus. The book speaks deliberately of transitioning. This marks our focus on transition processes and activities. However, discussions of ‘the transition’ quickly get stuck in abstract visions, remote future goals, and ideological statements about the desired world of tomorrow.

By contrast, much more attention must be paid to concrete transformation processes that could lead toward these projected futures. Transition how? Where to? By whom? We highlight that companies are critical actors in CE transitioning.

The book presents key outcomes from the “Transitioning Belgian companies into circularity” research chair, established by the Belgian Employers’ Federation FEB/VBO. While focusing on the role of companies, they show how the private sector cannot bring about such societal transformations single-handedly. Instead, the researchers consider companies as embedded transition agents, i.e., actors operating as parts of broader business ecosystems.

Read the book online here.

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