Sustainability for Non-Renewable Material Resources

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* Article: Quasi-Circular Growth: a Pragmatic Approach to Sustainability for Non-Renewable Material Resources. François Grosse. Sapiens, 4.2 | 2011 : VOL.4 / N°2.



"How can the long term management of non-renewable raw materials be optimised? This article develops a dynamic model of raw material flows which makes it possible to draw up the three conditions in which a growing economy optimises the use of non-renewable resources:

• It experiences low material consumption growth,

• It accumulates very little and therefore produces almost as much material waste as it consumes,

• It recycles most of its non-renewable material waste.

In contrast, a society that does not meet all three criteria does not significantly postpone depletion of deposits. Neither does it reduce the environmental impact of primary raw materials overconsumption. High levels of recycling are therefore not effective if material growth remains high or if waste flows are insufficient.

This model of an economy experiencing “quasi-circular” growth offers the prospect of a transition towards absolute decoupling of economic growth and primary material resources consumption.

By organising priorities, such an approach makes it possible to better structure the theoretical space underlying public policies governing material flows: for recycling to become clearly the number one priority in waste treatment, prevention policies should be separated, redefined, and reorganised."