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Waste to Wealth: Creating advantage in a circular economy

Waste to Wealth examines how the circular economy is disrupting the way we produce and consume products.


Accenture’s book, “Waste to Wealth,” examines how the transition to a circular economy may be the biggest revolution and opportunity for how we organize production and consumption in our global economy in 250 years. Powered by advances in digital, it represents a huge opportunity for companies to create a circular advantage.

Accenture research indicates a $4.5 trillion reward for achieving sustainable businesses by 2030.

That's not waste in the traditional sense of garbage, but the enormous underutilization of natural resources. It's about eliminating the very concept of 'waste' and recognizing everything has a value.

By carefully choosing the business model that is right for their business, recognizing there is no one 'right' answer for all companies to succeed in the circular economy.



Key Findings

Transforming towards a circular economy means a shift from the old school approach of “take, make, waste” to “take, make, take, make, take, make.” How?

  • By carefully choosing the business model that is right for their business, recognizing there is no one ‘right’ answer for all companies to succeed in the circular economy.

    In implementing new business models, leaders make sure to identify and capitalize on external enablers and business ecosystems.

  • Securing access to key enabling technologies to support and scale new business models. These technologies can be used to effectively manage resources within markets, ensure waste is eliminated and monetized, serve customers and drive business and product development over time.

  • Developing capabilities that effectively deploy and operate circular business principles. The book describes five distinct capability shifts that allow companies to create a circular flow from product design to production, retail, product use, take-back and profitable regeneration and reuse.


Accenture research has uncovered five circular business models for achieving competitive advantage:

Circular Supply-Chain: Introduces fully renewable, recyclable or biodegradable materials that can be used in consecutive lifecycles.

Recovery & Recycling: Creates production and consumption systems in which everything that used to be considered waste is revived for other uses.

Product Life-Extension: By maintaining and improving products this model elongates their life.

Sharing Platform: Examples include Airbnb, and Lyft. The model helps consumers save and make money while more effectively using assets.

Product as a Service: Prizes performance of a product over volume sales and “leases” products instead of selling them.


The Book

"Disruptive digital technologies like 3D printing and connected devices, are providing new ways for companies to become more operationally efficient, delivering customer value as well as supporting and enabling their business models in the circular economy."
Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, Sustainability Services


Peter Lacy
Managing Director
Accenture Strategy, Sustainability

Peter Lacy is the global managing director of Accenture Strategy's Sustainability practice. He has advised many of the world’s leading executives and companies on strategy and sustainability issues as well as the United Nations, European Union and national governments. Peter is a fellow at Oxford University. He contributes regularly to publications such as the FT, Guardian, Fast Company and Co-Chairs the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Taskforce on Circular Economy, co-founding the world's first global Circular Economy Awards. Peter is based in London.

Find out  more about The Circulars Economy Awards


Jakob Rutqvist
Accenture Strategy, Sustainability

Jakob Rutqvist is a manager in Accenture’s Strategy and Sustainability practice. Before Accenture he worked as a lobbyist on innovation, climate and energy and has engaged big multinationals as well as governments and institutions like the UN, World Bank, World Economic Forum and EU Parliament. He is an alumni of Clinton Global Initiative, One Young World and Harvard University. Jakob has written for Fast Company and Fortune and is based in Stockholm.


Origami Design on main image by Won Park.​​​​