How can we better enable the mindset for a circular economy with a common language?

2 min readFeb 3, 2021

I asked GPT-3, Open AI’s AI language model, what it believes the biggest barrier to the circular economy is. Its answer was very straightforward:

The lack of a common language.

This is crucial to define circular strategies, products, models, and opportunities. With one standard language across all industries, the chance to understand and collaborate for a circular economy will become much easier.

To add to this sentiment, I think it’s also very important to highlight how the difference in language, as well as the definitions of terms, has an effect on people’s perceptions.

For example, most people have a good understanding of what the terms “waste” and “resource” mean. But what becomes lost in their individual definitions is the huge overlap of things that fall under both definitions. What may be considered waste to Company A, could be considered a primary resource to Company B.

It’s important to talk about this issue not only for the purpose of creating industry standards but also for a shift in understanding for the general public. If we help people see the potential of everything with a circular mindset, we would all be so much better equipped to help move towards one.

This addressed one of the most important factors in creating a circular economy: enablement.

Making the transition to a circular economy can only really happen when everyone is on board and involved, not just a few key players. To get everybody to that point, we have to start with finding ways to share the vision and offer support. So I think it’s crucial that we start with such things in order to enable people to have the right mindset.

Should we redefine what the definition of “waste” really means? Or is it a differentiation that’s needed between “waste” in the regular economy vs. “waste” in a circular economy?

How can we better enable the mindset for a circular economy with a common language?

If you’re interested in discussing this, as well as other circular economy-related topics, join our conversations…


FLF Product Design — designing and launching new ventures and digital products, with a focus on analytics, organizational design and sustainability.