Circular Economy

Upcoming Events

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Past Events

At King County’s annual fair, Seattle Made upcyclers bring awareness to the importance of the circular economy by showing the community exclusive products made with upcycled materials. Learn more here

Seattle Made members help drive the conversation on global textile waste, and solutions created by a circular, textile economy. A WRED event (WA Recycles Everyday) hosted by REI, WA State Recycling Agency, and Zero Waste WA. Learn more here

What is the Circular Economy?

The Circular Economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. 

Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

  • Design out waste and pollution
  • Keep products and materials in use​
  • Regenerate natural systems​

Schools of Thought

Cradle to cradle

Performance Economy


Natural Capitalism

Industrial Ecology

“Industrial ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems”. Focusing on connections between operators within the ‘industrial ecosystem’, this approach aims at creating closed-loop processes in which waste serves as an input, thus eliminating the notion of an undesirable by-product. Industrial ecology adopts a systemic point of view, designing production processes in accordance with local ecological constraints whilst looking at their global impact from the outset, and attempting to shape them so they perform as close to living systems as possible. This framework is sometimes referred to as the ‘science of sustainability’, given its interdisciplinary nature, and its principles can also be applied in the services sector. With an emphasis on natural capital restoration, industrial ecology also focuses on social wellbeing.

Regenerative Design

In the US, John T. Lyle started developing ideas on regenerative design that could be applied to all systems, i.e., beyond agriculture, for which the concept of regeneration had already been formulated earlier. Arguably, he laid the foundations of the circular economyframework, which notably developed and gained notoriety thanks to McDonough (who had studied with Lyle), Braungart and Stahel. Today, the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studiesoffers courses on the subject.


Blue Economy

Initiated by former Ecover CEO and Belgian businessman Gunter Pauli, the Blue Economyis an open-source movement bringing together concrete case studies, initially compiled in an eponymous report handed over to the Club of Rome. As the official manifesto states, ‘using the resources available in cascading systems, (…) the waste of one product becomes the input to create a new cash flow’. Based on 21 founding principles, the Blue Economy insists on solutions being determined by their local environment and physical/ecological characteristics, putting the emphasis on gravity as the primary source of energy. The report, which doubles up as the movement’s manifesto, describes ‘100 innovations that can create 100 million jobs within the next 10 years’, and provides many examples of winning South-South collaborative projects— another original feature of this approach intent on promoting its hands-on focus.

Explore Seattle's Circular Economy!

A Circular Seattle Made

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Our Founding and Sustaining Partners