Business Models: from Linear to Circular to Regenerative

Desiree Driesenaar
The Startup
Published in
10 min readJul 19, 2019


Regenerative Business Model of a Beer Brewery, source:

In the 25+ years that I worked in regular companies in The Netherlands as Marketing and Business Unit Manager, I never knew what I am going to tell you now. But luckily the world is changing, we are innovating on all fronts.

Not only technologies are inspired by nature, but also the business models that drive our economy. And let me state some facts from the beginning:

  • Economy and ecology share the same etymological root
  • The economy is made by people, so people can change the basics
  • Humans have a heart, so the economy should be driven by heart as much as by a fair money-system
  • Humans are part of ecosystems, so we should take the complete web of life into account when (re)designing our economy

The good news is: it can be done! And it’s happening all over the world…

Linear Business Model, the Usual One

Let me start with the business model I knew for so long: the linear one. We take resources (creating pollution by mining, etc.), produce a product (often toxic, creating waste, pressure on people, pollution of air, water, soil, etc.), supply to a market (creating waste, pollution, unfairness between wealthy and poor countries, etc.) and in the end, all is waste. We can do better, so much better!

New Business Model: Circular

Now the business models are changing into circular. My own government in The Netherlands says we want to have a completely circular economy by 2050. Wonderful, I applaud the effort, it is a huge step forward.

The circular economy is easily explained in this picture made by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the butterfly model.

Butterfly Model of Circular Economy by Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Explanation of the Butterfly Model Circular Economy

Materials are part of one of the two wings: left is the biological circle, right is the technical circle. Nowadays many products stick to recycling, but the more you go to the inside of the circle, the more product value will be…



Desiree Driesenaar
The Startup

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