Circular Economy Cities

  • Guoquan QianEmail author
  • Cuiyun Wang
Part of the Research Series on the Chinese Dream and China’s Development Path book series (RSCDCDP)


Circulation has long been present in China through the ancient theory of the five elements. The newer circular economy concept can be traced back to the rise of environmentalism. The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth written by American economist Kenneth Boulding in 1966 presents early circular economy theories. Boulding believed that “the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system.” The theory sees pollution as residual resources that have not been used rationally. Since resource and environmental problems are caused by development, they must be resolved by replacing the traditional economic development pattern with a circular economic pattern to protect the Earth from destruction. The circular economy theory prompted earlier research on environmental resource issues, but various obstacles prevented significant progress at the time. It was not until the 1980s and 1990s that the circular economy concept finally garnered enough attention from governments and the public as global environmental problems intensified and sustainable development grew in popularity. British environmental economists David Pearce and Kerry Turner first formally used the term “circular economy” in the book Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1990. Germany drafted circular economy and waste management legislation in 1996, which was the first use of the term “circular economy” in national legal texts. Some developed countries have created a new, circular economy development pattern to increase environmental benefits and reduce environmental pollution, which includes planning industrial development in accordance with ecological theories. This pattern has seen considerable success in Germany, the United States, Japan, and other developed countries, where a circular economy has gradually increased in popularity in the recent years. Most developed countries have regarded a circular economy as an important approach to sustainable development. A growing number of government officials, scholars, and entrepreneurs are studying circular economy theories, offering increasingly diverse and mature options.


Green Building Circular Economy Rocky Desertification Assessment Metrics Residual Resource 
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Copyright information

© Social Sciences Academic Press (China) and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gansu Research Institute for City DevelopmentLanzhouChina
  2. 2.Lanzhou City UniversityLanzhouChina

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