Circular Recycling

Here at Circular Economy Asia, we prefer to call recycling – Recyclable Resource Recovery. For a product to be completely recyclable, it must be designed in a way for all of the components to be economically separated and be made from recyclable materials free from toxic chemicals so it can be safely reprocessed into new products.

The design and manufacture will determine how much value can be retained at the end of the use-cycle of products. Many of the products we consume today cannot be reprocessed, and so the valuable secondary raw materials are lost. 

Secondary raw materials are sourced through urban mining activities. We use the language of ‘recycling’ out of convenience. Yet, it is an increasingly outdated term as it does not give any indication as to the value of end of use-cycle products. Secondary raw materials require less energy and emits less CO2 emissions to reprocess secondary raw materials than primary raw materials. 

Secondary Raw Materials

Here are a few examples of the energy and CO2 savings from secondary raw materials:

Paper: For every 100,000 tonnes of paper:

Energy requirement for primary production: 3520TJ
Energy requirement for secondary production: 1880TJ
Carbon footprint for primary production: 0.17ktCO2
Carbon footprint for secondary production: 0.14ktCO2

Aluminium: For every 100,000 tonnes of aluminium production from delivered ore concentrate and scrap:

Energy requirement for primary production: 4700TJ
Energy requirement for secondary production: 240TJ
Carbon footprint for primary production: 383kt CO2
Carbon footprint for secondary production: 29kt CO2

Glass: The European Container Glass Federation Life Cycle Analysis study shows that, on a cradle to cradle basis, every tonne of recycled glass saves 670 kg of CO2. Expressed in terms of percentages, melting 100% cullet reduces the CO2 emissions by about 58% compared to a situation where no cullet is used.


Terajoule (TJ): The joule (symbol: J) is a derived unit of energy in the International System of Units. The terajoule (TJ) is equal to one trillion (1012) joules. 

kt: Carbon dioxide emissions are those stemming from the burning of fossil fuels, the manufacture of cement and other human activities. The unit of measurement is kt (kiloton).

Energy measurement: One potential variation in energy use between countries or regions depends upon the nature of the energy source, ranging from efficient hydroelectric production of electricity to the use of low-grade coals.

Plastics Resource Recovery

Circular Resource Recovery

About Marketplace ExamplesCircular PrinciplesButterfly Diagram
Recycling is reprocessing waste materials into useful products.

CIRCULAR REcycle is an available option after a product has undergone multiple use-cycles. It is a shared responsibility between users and manufacturers to recover and manufacture products with recycled content respectively.
The Mainichi Newspaper Company that embedded seeds into their newspaper for planting after reading - Japan

Sari Bari - India
Waste as a resource: Products that have a single use or have reached its end of use and is ready for disposal.

Business models:
Resource recovery, incentives, investment

Circular Design: Identification, Recyclability, Disassembly, Material selection.
Technical: Recycle

Circular Economy Butterfly Diagram


In a circular economy both natural (biological) and man-made (technical) materials circulate in production cycles. Refer to Circular Economy for a more detailed description.

Knowledge Centre


Joule: Wikipedia

kt: Indexmundi

‘Report on the Environmental Benefits of Recycling’ published by Bureau of International Recycling, 2008