The distinction between circular economy and sustainability is something that we discuss a lot, especially with folks who have never heard of the concept before. Sustainability has good intentions but it tends to aim toward reducing harm – “net neutral”, “zero waste”, “zero emissions”.
That’s still operating and optimizing within the current paradigm, whereas a circular economy is about fundamentally redesigning the entire system. It’s about designing products so that they maximize positive benefits for you as the individual experiencing that product or service and for the system more broadly from the outset. Optimizing the current linear system is simply moving out the end date for when our finite resources are going to deplete versus rewiring the system to generate a net positive.