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Total consumption growing faster than the uptake of secondary raw materials

23.01.2020 − 

Worldwide raw materials consumption continues to rise sharply, outstripping gains in the use of secondary raw materials. According to the "Circularity Gap Report 2020", which was presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the global economy consumed more than 100 billion tonnes of raw materials per year for the first time in 2017. While the total resource consumption had increased by more than 8 per cent since 2015, the use of recycled materials rose by only 3 per cent and has fallen as a proportion of overall material use.

A total of 8.65 billion tonnes of secondary raw materials were used globally in 2017. With that, the share of total consumption fell from 9.1 per cent in 2015 to just 8.6 per cent in 2017.

The report was presented by the initiative "Circle Economy". Its head, Harald Friedl, said the world was headed for a "global disaster if we continue to treat the world’s resources as if they are limitless". He called on governments to urgently adopt circular economy solutions in order "to achieve a high quality of life for close to 10 billion people by mid-century without destabilising critical planetary processes."

"We are all developing countries now"

The report shows that no country meets the basic needs of its citizens while operating within the physical limits of our planet, lead author Marc de Wit stressed. "We are all still developing countries here," he said. Therefore, all states must move towards an "ecologically safe and socially just" future.

But there are different pathways to reach this end, "according to the different challenges" faced. The report therefore also distinguishes between "build" countries still working to meet the basic needs of their people, "grow" countries with emerging economies, and the more industrialised "shift" countries which need to move away from over-consumption.

A more detailed report covering Circle Economy's concrete recommendations for the transition to a circular economy will appear in the next issue of EUWID Recycling & Waste Management, out 5 February.

 

 

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