Circular Economy

This training module introduces the field of circular economy, a complex and dynamic field which has potential to contribute towards mitigating critical materials risks in the 21st century.
This module presents an overview of some of the main circular economy frameworks which have been developed and examples of possible materials assessments. Further models are considered, including a consideration of ‘refuse’. Critical materials use in circular cities is reviewed and this includes consideration of the time aspect. The ‘fields of tension’ is opened up at the end to show going circular is not easy or without risks. It also shows that without careful consideration going circular could contain critical materials risks.
For teachers and learners who are more familiar with circular economy teaching or learning, respectively, there is an opportunity to use the class based exercise to explore current challenges around going circular and the resources needed to achieve sustainability goals. This could be further developed to explore future scenarios.

Learning objectives:

  • Reproduce the ‘butterfly model’ of a circular economy
  • Explain the desired outcomes of a circular economy
  • Describe the concept of hierarchies and most to least desirable options
  • Describe the interlinkage between CE and CRM
  • Critically assess the tensions in the field of CE and in particular in relation to critical materials
  • Describe the CE actions which can mitigate CRM challenges in the future


Teaching Material

The exercises for this module are included in the teacher’s manual.