Linear Economy

A linear economy is an economic model that's often described by the phrase "take-make-waste." In this system, raw materials are collected, then transformed into products that are used until they are finally discarded as waste.[1]

Purpose and Role: The linear economy is the most traditional economic model, and it's deeply rooted in global manufacturing and trade. It relies on the easy availability and accessibility of raw materials for production purposes.

Components: The linear economy includes three major stages – resource extraction, production and consumption, and waste.

Importance: Despite its unsustainability, the linear economy has been the backbone of global commerce for centuries. It has driven economic growth and development, but also has led to increased waste and depletion of natural resources.

History: The linear economic model has been dominant since the start of the Industrial Revolution, when technological advances increased the speed and scale of extraction, manufacturing, and disposal.

Benefits: A linear economy can lead to economic growth, particularly in the short-term. It also creates jobs in industries such as manufacturing, retail, and waste management.

Pros and Cons:

  1. Pros: Leads to economic growth, supports large industries, and creates jobs.
  2. Cons: Unsustainable in the long run, leads to depletion of resources, creates significant waste and environmental pollution.

Examples: An example of a linear economy can be seen in the fast fashion industry. Clothes are produced (often in large quantities), used (generally for a short time), and then discarded. Another example is the disposable plastic industry, where items are made, used once, and then thrown away.

In recent years, there's been a growing shift towards a circular economy, which aims to minimize waste and make the most of resources. This model aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their service life.

  1. Defining Linear Economy Kenniskaarten