The Netherlands has set itself a target to become 50% circular by 2030 and 100% circular by 2050 © 123RF
The Netherlands has set itself a target to become 50% circular by 2030 and 100% circular by 2050 © 123RF

Only 9% of materials globally are reused

23 January 2019

Just 9% of materials globally are reused and failure to increase this could result in “dangerous climate change”, a report has warned.

The report, by campaign group Circle Economy, said governments “barely consider” circular economy measures in policies and there is still vast scope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by applying circular principles of reusing, remanufacturing and recycling.

According to the report, 92.8bn tonnes of materials, including minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass, enter the economy each year, a number which has tripled since 1970 and is predicted to double by 2050.

Only 9% of these materials are currently reused and according to the report, the “circularity gap” isn’t closing, noting an upward trend in resource extraction and greenhouse gas emissions since the last report was released a year ago.

It is estimated that almost two thirds (62%) of global greenhouse gas emissions are released during the extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods to meet society’s needs, the report said.

The report calls on governments to move away from a linear “take-make-waste” economy to a circular economy that maximises the use of existing materials, while reducing dependence on new raw materials and minimising waste.

In 2016 the Netherlands set itself a target of being 50% circular by 2030 and 100% circular by 2050, but the report said most governments have yet to wake up to the potential of the circular economy.

Circle Economy CEO Harald Friedl said governments had overlooked the vast potential of the circular economy, instead focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency and reducing deforestation in climate change policies.

He said: “Supply chains should re-engineered all the way back to the wells, fields, mines and quarries where our resources originate so that we consume fewer raw materials. This will not only reduce emissions but also boost growth by making economies more efficient.”

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