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Three Ways the Circular Economy Can Create Value Beyond Circular Material Flows

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We know the linear economy is damaging our planet and impacting human health. Under the linear model, production and consumption have gone unchecked: the use of resources has tripled since 1970, putting increasing pressure on resource availability and producing more and more waste. What’s more, about 45% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from manufacturing and food production.

Imagine we were to continue along this linear path. Our demand for resources could double in the next 20 years, requiring the equivalent of 1.5 Earths. Our GHG emissions would continue to rise, and air, water and soil pollution would worsen, causing more than the 9 million deaths that already occur as a result every year.

We have reached a tipping point, and the time has come for decisive action. The interconnections between humans, the environment, and our economy have become more visible in recent economic, climate and societal occurrences. The world is looking to businesses to help drive the move to a new economic model that rebalances this complex relationship.

Circular economy strategies have been shown to mitigate risk and harm: by rethinking our use of resources, circular approaches can cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost 40%. Beyond that, a circular economy can regenerate new forms of value creation in business and society.

Despite this, in its fifth year, the annual Circularity Gap report reveals that 90% of our production and consumption activity remains the result of legacy linear processes. Why is our current economy still less than 10% circular?

Many of the ways the circular economy can create value are overlooked because it is often not seen in the context of our interconnected world and society. Recycling and circular design are not the only benefits of a circular economy: there is far broader value in terms of materials, innovation and social impact. Here are three of the most overlooked aspects, and how businesses can create value by incorporating them.


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