The circular economy represents an alternative, more sustainable model to the traditional linear economy. A linear model follows the path of make, use, then dispose. In contrast, in a circular economy, we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their service life. As a result, a circular economy also offers a way to improve Europe’s competitiveness and resource efficiency.

The unique characteristics of plastics enable them to play a major role on the road to a more sustainable and resource efficient future. Lightweight, versatile and durable plastics can help save key resources such as energy and water in strategic sectors that include packaging, building and construction, automotive and renewable energy, to name but a few. In addition, plastics applications in packaging can help reduce food waste. However, to improve the circularity of plastics, it is essential to make sure that more and more plastic waste is recovered and doesn’t end up in landfill or in the environment.

In developing a roadmap for a circular economy, it is important to ensure that decisions around appropriate solutions are based on sustainability considered across the entire life cycle rather than simply considering resource efficiency aspects only at the end of life of a product. Plastics make a significant contribution to a circular economy when their entire life cycle is examined. For more information see: life cycle thinking.


Read more about improving resource efficiency.

Read more about plastics' contribution to sustainability.

Read more about zero plastics to landfill. 

Plastics’ contribution to a sustainable future

You can read more about the contribution plastics can make to the circular economy in the following publications.




The publication is also available in:

Sources: The Unknown Life of Plastics

Our views

Contact us for more information

Contact us for more information about the benefits of plastics and the activities of PlasticsEurope.