New Doughnut and Circular Economics Are Replacing Capitalism


Replacing Capitalism – For decades, capitalism has been the dominant economic model, driving innovation, growth, and prosperity. However, it has also led to social inequality, environmental degradation, and a focus on short-term profits over long-term sustainability (Piketty, 2014). As we grapple with these challenges, new economic models are emerging that promise a more equitable and sustainable future. Two such models—Amsterdam’s Doughnut Economics and California’s Circular Initiatives—are leading the way in redefining how we think about economics.

Amsterdam’s Doughnut Economics: A Holistic Approach

Amsterdam became the first city to formally adopt the Doughnut Economics model, a groundbreaking framework developed by British economist Kate Raworth (Raworth, 2017). The model is visually represented by a doughnut, where the inner ring symbolizes a social foundation that no one should fall below, and the outer ring represents an ecological ceiling that humanity should not exceed.

Key Features:

  • Circular Economy: Amsterdam aims to become a fully circular economy by 2050, focusing on waste reduction, recycling, and sustainable production (City of Amsterdam, 2020).
  • Social Equity: The model prioritizes affordable housing, education, and healthcare, ensuring that all residents have access to basic needs (Raworth, 2017).
  • Climate Action: The city has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with the Doughnut’s ecological ceiling (City of Amsterdam, 2020).
  • Community Engagement: Amsterdam actively involves local businesses, residents, and organizations in decision-making, fostering a sense of collective responsibility (Raworth, 2017).

California’s Circular Initiatives: Pioneering Sustainability

While California has not formally adopted Doughnut Economics, it has been a leader in implementing circular economic principles (California Environmental Protection Agency, 2018). These initiatives aim to create a closed-loop system where waste is minimized, and resources are reused or recycled.

Key Features:

  • Aggressive Climate Goals: California has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy (California Air Resources Board, 2017).
  • Waste Management: The state has robust recycling programs and is exploring ways to move toward zero waste (CalRecycle, 2019).
  • Social Programs: California has various programs aimed at reducing social inequalities, including affordable housing and healthcare initiatives (California Department of Housing and Community Development, 2020).

Why These Models Are Replacing Capitalism

  1. Sustainability: Both models prioritize long-term sustainability over short-term profits, addressing the environmental limitations of capitalism (Stiglitz, 2019).
  2. Social Equity: Unlike traditional capitalism, which often exacerbates social inequalities, these models aim to provide a safety net for all citizens (Sen, 1999).
  3. Resource Efficiency: By focusing on circularity and sustainability, these models make more efficient use of resources, reducing waste and environmental impact (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015).
  4. Community Involvement: Both models emphasize community engagement and collective decision-making, fostering a sense of shared responsibility (Putnam, 2000).


As we face the pressing challenges of social inequality and environmental degradation, the traditional capitalist model seems increasingly inadequate (Sachs, 2015). Amsterdam’s Doughnut Economics and California’s Circular Initiatives offer promising alternatives that prioritize both social equity and environmental sustainability (Raworth, 2017; California Environmental Protection Agency, 2018). While it’s too early to declare capitalism dead, these innovative models are certainly giving it a run for its money, pointing the way toward a more equitable and sustainable future.


  • City of Amsterdam. (2020). Amsterdam Circular Strategy 2020-2025.
  • California Environmental Protection Agency. (2018). California’s Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.
  • California Air Resources Board. (2017). California’s 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan.
  • CalRecycle. (2019). California’s Recycling and Waste Reduction Efforts.
  • California Department of Housing and Community Development. (2020). California’s Affordable Housing Initiatives.
  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2015). Towards the Circular Economy.
  • Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
  • Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.
  • Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist.
  • Sachs, J. (2015). The Age of Sustainable Development.
  • Sen, A. (1999). Development as Freedom.
  • Stiglitz, J. (2019). People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent.

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