2016 has been a challenging year for the global economy, with two major political shocks in advanced economies – the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. In economic terms, the year has been defined by uncertainty, and consumers have reacted to this by reducing expenditure – with growth in global consumer expenditure slowing to 2.4% in real terms – the lowest rate of growth since the financial crisis. Our macro model was the focus of our economic analysis with the uncertainty facing the global economy highlighting the need to explore alternative growth scenarios.
The move towards a true resource efficient and circular economy is an invitation to think differently about the way we produce, consume and use, argues Maarten Labberton.
More than seven out of 10 aluminium drinks cans are recycled across Europe
The move to a circular economy is also an opportunity to re-invent our business models, adapt and optimise our industrial value chains and turn our waste into resources. But within this context, it is essential to distinguish between two kinds of recycling: one where the material gradually degrades, and another that permanently keeps the material in the loop.
Keeping materials cycling throughout the economy is good, right? Perhaps not, if you haven’t considered exactly what materials you’ve got re-entering the loop. Unfortunately, we don’t know all the substances contained in the products and built environment around us, or understand the health impacts that can occur as a result of the accumulation of certain chemicals. Creating pure material flows is a crucial value driver for the circular economy, offering economic and health benefits.
Podcast: Cities as flows in a circular economy – Circulate
On Wednesday, leading apparel and footwear brand Nike released its latest sustainability report and was announced as the newest Global Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Nike has made impressive progress during a period of continued growth, and recognizes that to continue as such, it must innovate on an unprecedented scale. The company has set “a vision for a low-carbon, closed-loop future as part of the company’s growth strategy.”
The construction industry’s appetite for raw materials is vast; it is the world’s largest consumer of them and accounts for 25-40% of global carbon emissions.
Yet very little gets reused or recycled. The World Economic Forum’s new reportShaping the Future of Construction found that only a fraction of construction waste gets recycled. Instead, billions of tonnes of materials that could be used elsewhere are being dumped.
In May Slovenia will host an international conference, “Embracing the Circular Economy”, with top experts from Circular Economy “Hot Spots” in the EU
Photo: Ladeja Godina Košir
Europe currently loses around 600 million tonnes of materials which could potentially be recycled or re-used in waste each year. The European Commission (EC) estimates that waste prevention, eco-design, re-use, and similar measures could bring net savings of €600 billion or 8% of annual turnover to businesses in the EU.
Vertical farming, the practice of growing produce indoors, under controlled conditions and in an urban setting, is still a relatively small market compared to other parts of the agtech sector.
In 2015, startups producing technologies in and around the “indoor agriculture” space, raised just over $107 million in funding, according to AgFunder’s Investing Report. That was just over 2% of $4.6 billion total investing in agtech during the year.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and growth thereof, has been widely used over the years to measure economic progress. But what is GDP, and why does it matter?
Mathematically it is the sum of consumption, investment and government spending (plus exports, minus imports). It is regularly cited in discussions related to the economic health and wellbeing of countries and regions, with some governments such as China going so far as to set specific targets for GDP growth (placed between 6.5 and 7% at the recent National People’s Congress in the newFive Year Plan).
Image: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
You may not have heard of the circular model economy but it has been described as a ‘trillion dollar opportunity’ as well as a way of making life more sustainable.
This video series presents perspectives from leaders across business, academia, policy and civil society as they explore the concept of the circular model and how growth can indeed be ‘green’. This is one of the key issues being explored in ourBeyond GDP series, as we look at ways of moving away from a linear ‘take-make-dispose’ way of living.