Circle Economy’s Circularity Gap Report 2024 calls for Governments to “create a level policy playing field”, adjust fiscal policies and leverage public investment, and build circular expertise and skills.
According to the report, the share of cycled materials consumed by the global economy has been in steady decline over the past 5 years from 9.1% in 2018 to 7.2% in 2023. Over the same period, the world has consumed 28% of all the materials humanity has consumed since 1900.
The Circularity Gap Report calls for Governments and industries to “break free” of flawed development patterns that fuel “socially- and environmentally-exploitative” practices.
The solutions in the report cover food, the built environment and manufactured goods. It also segments countries into three different profiles: lower-income Build, middle-income Grow and higher-income Shift.
The three key solutions in the report are to “create a level policy playing field, get the economics right, and build circular expertise and skills”.
Circle Economy explained Government should set the “rules of the game” through policies and legal frameworks that incentivise sustainable and circular practices while penalising harmful ones. The report continued that Government should adjust fiscal policies and leverage public investment to ensure that circular solutions become more valuable than linear business models.
Finally, the report explains that Governments should also ensure people are skilled and trained to facilitate a green transition and work to distribute opportunities fairly across and within societies.
Circle Economy defined higher-income Shift countries as having residents enjoying “affluent, comfortable” lifestyles who perform well on social indicators. However, they consume far more than their fair share of materials on average.
Many middle-income countries are and will likely remain key manufacturing and industrial hubs, the report continued. Whereas lower-income Build countries generally struggle to meet basic needs for healthcare and education, Circle Economy said.
The report stated that to achieve global wellbeing within planetary boundaries, Governments must prioritise circularity-based development in lower-income Build countries, promote circular industrial processes in Grow countries and shift consumption patterns in higher-income Shift nations.
According to the report, Shift countries make up 42% of the overshoot of the climate change boundary despite much of their infrastructure already being built up.
Grow countries make the largest contribution to the overshoot of planetary boundaries, making up 50%, which the report claimed is largely because they produce materials to feed the demand of higher-income Shift countries.
Build countries make the smallest contribution to the overshoot of planetary boundaries, contributing 8%.
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