(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The 2023 edition of the Circularity Gap Report by the Circle Economy and Deloitte tells us that there is still much to do. The document was presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 16 January.
According to the analysis, we have already passed 5 of the 9 “planetary boundaries“, tipping points, identified as points of no return for the health of land, air and water. By adopting a truly circular approach, however, the trend could be reversed until the extraction and consumption of global material are reduced by a third: we could meet the global resource needs, energy and materials using only 70% of what we currently extract, but we are far from the target since the global economy is circular only for 7.2%, and the situation is getting worse every year.
The annual world demand for materials is 100 billion tons and is in a growing trend: if in 2018 the global circularity was 9.1%, in 2020 it fell to 8.6% and today, in 2023, it stands at just over 7.
This means that everything we extract, produce, consume and set aside every day continues to increase and “burden” the planet: we constantly uses “virgin” materials, wasting 90% because we lose them on the way, We throw them away or we don’t have proper life cycle replenishment systems.
The Circularity Gap Report 2023 analyzes the state of affairs but also gives practical insights into action, particularly in 4 key sectors of the economy.
4 steps to becoming globally circular
The Circularity Gap Report 2023 identifies 4 key global systems on which to take priority action: Agri-food, Mobility and Transport, Consumer Goods and Materials and Construction, key systems that “can reverse the [tipping points] we have now, allowing us to meet the needs of people within the safe limits of the planet“.
The fundamental starting point remains the reduction of extraction and consumption of matter, to be reduced by at least a third by using fewer resources, longer, and learning to reuse.
The 4 key sectors are those that, every day, allow our species to survive but, at the same time, those that violate the most planetary boundaries. This is why the Circularity Gap Report 2023 repeatedly stresses the need to transform them by providing a shortlist of 16 solutions to make them more circular, such as increasing the energy efficiency of all existing buildings, adopting a circular food approach to ensure maximum reduction of waste, improve transport management by investing in soft mobility, public transport, and electric vehicles and prolong the life of the items produced and purchased.
Circularity Gap Report 2023 provides 16 solutions to make us more circular
The Circularity Gap Report 2023 focuses its analysis on the 4 sectors identified, elaborating for each of them 4 proposals to make them more circular.
Agriculture: The survey points out that agricultural activities cover half of the Planet’s living area and are responsible for 70% of fresh water and one third of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Given the growth of the global population, we need:
1) take urgent action to make the food we consume healthier and more nutritious, with less environmental impact and shifting calories from animal proteins to cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
2) to improve the transport, storage, refrigeration and planning of food consumption,
3) by favouring local, seasonal and organic fertilisers in order to reduce the use of fertilisers but also transport and heating fuels. Finally, the document suggests
4) to base production on traditional regenerative agriculture because it protects the health of the land much longer than the other methods: all the meat we eat (which should in any case decrease sharply) should derive from farms within this model.
Compared to construction, which contributes to 40% of global climate-altering emissions, the Circularity Gap Report 2023 points out that there are no recycling opportunities in the industry and that “While building more living spaces, humanity must learn from nature, our collective home that knows no waste”.
How to do it? In four moves:
1) bringing our buildings to energy efficiency and reducing the amount of energy we use; 2) making the most of existing ones, reusing spaces and, when possible, materials already used for new buildings; 3) by favouring circular materials and approaches such as wood over steel and concrete, using modular and lightweight structures to reduce the use of cement; 4) by reusing waste and aggregates; maximising recycling and avoiding the extraction of virgin materials.