The problem comes when we are in a country, an economy, where we are building that industrial civilization for the first time.
With cars the point is obvious; few in India or Bangladesh own a car, so to get to the point where we have as many cars as people – like in Europe or the US – we are going to need a lot more steel than we can have just by junking the old ones.
But this is true of everything. We can only build the new civilization – say Civilization 2.0 – out of the remains of the earlier one if we actually have that earlier one we are deconstructing.
To make high-rise buildings that do not fall over we need rebar – steel – inside the concrete. We can only get that from old buildings if we are tearing down old ones to make way for the new. Ripping down brick buildings just does not do it, there’s no steel there to recycle.
Or wiring up the country for telecoms and electricity. We can only do this from the old copper if there was already that copper out there in the previous wiring system.
If we are building out that grid for the first time we cannot be doing it in a circular manner.
This really does apply to everything as well.