Creating a sustainable circular economy

The thematic synthesis sets out the necessary conditions for transition towards a sustainable circular economy.

A key learning from NRP 73 research on circular economy (CE) is that practitioners often view the concept of CE as keeping more material in circulation. Although circularity has the potential to drive the necessary change towards a more sustainable economy, circulation of materials alone is not enough. When creating circular business models, earth’s boundaries need to be respected and holistic thinking incorporated. Thus, new knowledge is needed to ensure that all sustainability dimensions are embedded within the concept of CE.

With the thematic synthesis “Creating a Sustainable Circular Economy”, we want to inform policy makers, industry and society at large about how to implement a sustainable circular economy in Switzerland and beyond. To achieve this, we collate and map the research findings of eight NRP 73 projects into three pillars: Earth system perspective, resource utilisation and business models; and two cross cutting topics: enabling legislation and indicators.

Experts from practice will be involved in order to challenge the mapping and to share lighthouse cases. We will synthesise the output and transfer the knowledge into target group-specific products including a policy brief, a CEO brief, and a video.

The policy briefaddresses Swiss policy-makers and will be presented to parliamentarians at federal and cantonal level. The CEO brief targets decision makers at Swiss SMEs and large enterprises with the aim of motivating transition from the top. To ensure sufficient outreach, we will call on existing partner companies and networks involved in NRP 73 CE-research for support, giving them the opportunity to act as ambassadors for an SCE. In addition, we will produce a video for the public. 

The synthesis team leaders are: Nicola Blum and Mélanie Haupt from ETH Zurich and Harald Desing from Empa.

Further information on this content



Nicola Blum +41 44 633 92 54

Harald Desing Empa Lerchenfeldstrasse 5 9014 St. Gallen +41 58 765 75 13

Dr. Melanie Haupt Chair for Ecological Systems Design
Institute of Environmental Engineering
ETH Zurich
+41 44 633 33 39