Our world is only 9% circular and the trend is negative. The Circularity Gap is not closing. In the 12 months since the first Circularity Gap Report, the upward trend in resource extraction and greenhouse gas emissions has continued. All the key indicators confirm that the problems of a linear economy are ‘baked in’ to the global economy. Worse still, the engine of our linear global economy is stuck in reverse: we are heading in the wrong direction. A 1.5°C world is circular. The goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels can only be achieved by a circular economy.The circular agenda and low-carbon agenda are complementary and mutually supportive: the right fit at the right price. Circular business models and improved resource efficiency are economically attractive means to enhance energy efficiency and renewables, methane abatement and to avoid deforestation. The pathway to a low-carbon future is circular.
The opportunity is real. Making better use of stocks that last is an opportunity for global collaboration, social justice and systemic change. The combined volume of materials in current use (economic stocks) is 10 times larger than the annual consumption of disposable materials. Better use of existing stock is key to achieving the goals of both the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Capital equipment consumes half of all metals. Capital equipment includes a broad spectrum of products, from cars to medical scanners and solar panels. Advances in digital technologies and smart design are creating new circular business opportunities for capital equipment with huge transformative potential.
We know what to do. The long-term horizon of the circular economy has implications beyond the material footprint. New decision metrics bring new opportunities for technology-driven prosperity within planetary boundaries. Action to drive the transition from a ‘throughput’ economy of Products that flow to Products that last will transform the social contract; it will slow environmental degradation and reduce social inequality.