Circular Economy

The Circular Economy concept aims to maintain the value of products, materials and resources within the economy for as long as possible, and to minimise the generation of waste. Reuse and recycling are at the heart of this concept as they extend the lifespan of products and materials respectively.

By 2030 the European Commission expects reuse, recycling and other measures to save the European economy €600 billion per year. According to environmental services company Veolia, adopting a circular economy could create €1.65 billion of GDP in Ireland.


Reuse ensures that products – such as clothing, electrical goods or furniture – are circulated in our economy for longer. It can involve anything from exchanging consumer goods (e.g. online or in second hand stores) to repairing, remanufacturing and upcycling. For example, if you buy a second hand bicycle or repair your laptop instead of throwing it away, you are reusing.

Reuse is the preferred environmental option for managing our resources because it prevents a product from becoming waste and reduces demand for new products, which can come with significant environmental impacts.

Nearly all of the reuse activity in Ireland is considered to be on the waste prevention tier of the waste hierarchy. The second reuse activity, preparation for reuse, only takes place if something is discarded and therefore the products in question are considered to be waste.

CRN members are involved in reuse by facilitating the exchange of goods for reuse (online or in retail stores) and by refurbishing or upcycling IT equipment, furniture, textiles, bicycles and much more.


Recycling ensures that the material in products – such as paper, plastic or aluminium – is circulated in our economy for longer. This means that new materials do not have to be extracted from natural resources in order to replace them and the material is prevented from going for recovery or disposal.

CRN members are involved in recycling materials that cannot otherwise be reused, including mattresses, electrical and electronic goods, textiles, paper and card.

Triple Bottom Line

Many reuse and recycling companies operate as social enterprises that provide sustainable and meaningful employment for people who might not otherwise have access to it.

This means that they are contributing to the environment, the economy and to the needs of our society and community, or the “triple bottom line”  – as wonderfully illustrated in the video “Inclusive Communities at Work” here.

As the majority of CRNI’s members are not for profit environmental and social enterprises, the triple bottom line is an important tool to communicate the broad impacts that they have on society.

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