The Circularity Gap Report 2024

2024 Circularity Gap report by Circle Economy Foundation and Deloitte is out to give a fair overview, how are we approaching our sustainable goals.

Despite the increased attention and discussions surrounding circular economy principles, global circularity is still declining. Over the past five years, the volume of discussions addressing circularity has nearly tripled, indicating growing awareness. However, the majority of materials entering the economy are still virgin, with the share of secondary materials decreasing steadily. For instance, from 9.1% in 2018 to 7.2% in 2023. At the same time, global material consumption continues to rise exponentially, with over half a trillion tonnes consumed in just the past six years alone, mirroring the grim reality: despite rhetoric, concrete actions towards circularity are lacking.

The Circularity Gap Reports since 2019 have provided essential analysis and theory, but it’s imperative to translate these insights into action now. Six of the nine key planetary boundaries measuring environmental health have been breached, largely due to the linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy. Adopting 16 circular economy solutions, as identified in the Circularity Gap Report 2023, could not only reverse this trend but also reduce global material extraction by one-third, emphasizing the urgent need for a circular economy.

While material consumption has historically correlated with increased living standards, we’re at a juncture where its acceleration, particularly in high-income countries, doesn’t necessarily guarantee enhanced wellbeing. Moreover, unequal distribution of wealth and resources destabilizes societies and strains Earth’s life-support systems. Thus, transitioning to circular principles becomes paramount to boost development, resilience, and safeguarding wellbeing amidst uncertainty and transition.

Governments and industries must break free from exploitative patterns by implementing bold policies, closing the circular skills gap, and ensuring a just transition. The focus shifts from ‘what’ needs to be done to ‘how,’ emphasizing systemic changes and people-centric approaches. Circular solutions must prioritize job creation and decent livelihoods while reducing inequalities and environmental harm. By funneling materials into industries and practices that elevate people and repair ecosystems, we can achieve global wellbeing within planetary boundaries, requiring tailored approaches across nations and industries.

In conclusion, prioritizing circularity-based development in lower-income countries, promoting circular industrial processes in developing countries, and reshaping consumption patterns in higher-income nations are crucial steps toward a sustainable future. The circular economy isn’t just about materials; it’s about elevating human wellbeing, repairing ecosystems, and reshaping societal paradigms for a more sustainable future.


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