Radical Circular Economy

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Recently the Circular Economy (CE) concept has gained momentum in the Netherlands, propounding that environmental impact reduction can provide a significant positive economical impulse. The government, larger parts of the industry as a whole, as well as the construction industry, has warmly received this approach. At first sight the CE concept connects over two centuries of sustainability thinking together in a relatively seen rather coherent framework. So, CE in its constituent elements doesn’t provide anything new. It is the economic framework uniting the elements, which makes CE a new and challenging approach. Insofar the Dutch construction industry is concerned, based on the extensive experiences of the authors over the past years, the CE concept gets a fragmented, incoherent and eclectic interpretation. In the paper, departing from the concept of the ‘homo-economicus’ (Mill, 1836), and the free market theory (Malthus, 1826) CE, is re-defined into ‘Radical CE’ attempting to constitute a CE theory and terminology, appropriate for the construction industry and addressing the core of the CE concept in terms of a sustainable industry and society, behaving as such because of economic incentives. Based on the concept of ‘Radical CE’, the paper describes and evaluates several CE cases. The paper concludes with some guidelines and strategies for implementing CE.