The circular economy is a broad concept that includes social and economic aspects that are beyond the scope of IEC standardization work. However, the IEC can address aspects related to the use and preservation of materials, i.e. aspects related to material efficiency.
Material efficiency is an essential part of the circular economy. It consists of the preservation of materials by making products more durable and repairable. It also facilitates the recovery and recycling of material at the end of the product life. The ultimate objective of material efficiency is to keep materials in use for as long as possible - and potentially forever.
Material efficiency can be placed into a hierarchy during a product’s use and waste phases. The most favourable strategies call for the design of products associated with a longer product life using the least amount of natural resources, while the least favourable strategies represent the loss of a material resource by incinerating the material and recovering its energy. In a truly circular economy, landfills are not an acceptable option.
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