The world is failing to achieve a circular economy—here’s how to change that
The world economy is only 9 per cent circular, and more than 90 per cent of the raw materials used to do business and sustain the global population go to waste instead of being cycled back into the economy, a new report by Dutch social enterprise Circle Economy has found.
Released on Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting, the Circularity Gap Report launched this new metric to quantify the degree to which the global economy is circular. A circular economy is one where materials and nutrients are recycled and reused instead of being wasted after a single use; this latter linear model is often described as “take, make, waste”.
Circle Economy’s statistic was derived by comparing the amount of resources entering the global economy annually with the volume of materials being “cycled back” into the economy through measures such as recycling, composting, and conversion into fuels such as biogas. The data was derived from resource database Exiobase.
Overall, about 92.8 billion tonnes of resources are pumped into the economy every year, but only 8.4 billion tonnes are recycled. The most resource-intensive sector is housing and infrastructure with a footprint of 42.4 billion tonnes, followed by agriculture and transport.
Photo courtesy of Ken Teegardin.