Circular Economy 2.0 in Practice #2


Case #2 - Duck-Rice Farming

Duck-rice farming is an eco-friendly method, mainly used in East and Southeast Asia and particularly suitable for resource-poor farmers to obtain better yields at lower cost.


Social Challenges:

Around 90% of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in Asia. Smallholder farmers are often caught in a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty and are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events.


Business Model:

Duck-rice farming creates a symbiotic ecosystem where ducks and crops benefit from each other. Ducks feed on harmful insects and unwanted weeds, eliminating the use of pesticides and saving 240 weeding hours per hectare. Duck droppings are natural fertilizer. While constantly paddling and digging the weeds, ducks oxygenate the water and help the rice plants grow. Also, ducks can be consumed, reducing the risk of malnutrition, and sold in the market to generate extra income. Fish are often introduced to this system to enrich the loop and increase total economic value.

Fig. 1: The Duck-Rice Farming method: a socially-inclusive virtuous cycle


Circular Economy 2.0 adds the social dimension, to the Circular Economy, by designing poverty out of our system on top of designing waste out:

  • The root cause of our environmental challenges is Waste. Waste is designed out in Circular Economy;

  • The root cause of our social challenges is Poverty. Poverty and Waste are both designed out in Circular Economy 2.0;

Both Poverty and Waste do not exist in Nature as it exists in our Human world. Both should be designed out.

To achieve this, the Circular Economy 2.0 proposes three additional Principles on top of the current three “Safe Circular Principles”(1), these are the “Just Circular Principles” (2), using The Doughnut Economy wording.


Circular Equity Principle 4

As the duck-farming system relies on natural resources, smallholder farmers are able to achieve equity when competing with larger-scale commercial farmers.


Circular Access Principle 5

Duck-farming system can boost the rice yields 20-50% beyond those under industrial rice farming system. By selling ducks and fish, farmers diversify their income sources and reduce financial risks. Not needing to buy agricultural chemicals also allow farmers to retain more income and break the cycle of poverty.


Circular Ability Principle 6

Children under five are the most susceptible to stunted growth and preventable deaths caused by malnutrition. With the duck-farming system in place, children and family members are able to obtain important nutrients from rice as well as ducks and fish and fulfill their potential as healthy individuals.

The ultimate objective of the Circular Economy 2.0 is to Optimize Circular Value (#OCV) since we have now embedded Humans within the model (only Humans perceive Value).


(1) The current "Safe Circular Principles" suggested by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation are:

  • Safe Principle #1 "Preserve and enhance Natural Capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows";

  • Safe Principle #2 "Optimize resource yields by circulating products, components and material at the highest utility at all times in both technical and biological cycles";

  • Safe Principle #3 "Foster system effectiveness by revealing and designing out negative externalities";

(2) In Circular Economy 2.0, we add three socially inclusive principle as we recognize Humans as a valuable assets for our future. We embed them into the concept of Circular Economy thanks to a Humansphere. The additional "Just Circular Principles" are:

  • Just Principle #4 "Equity makes business sense as services could be design to address the needs of all";

  • Just Principle #5 "Developing people's ability promoting any means of exchange is a priority as one should be accessing more with less in a service-based economy";

  • Just Principle #6 "Using labour is innovative as in a systemic regenerative model all abundantly available renewable energies should be considered".


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