Club of Rome report shows tangible benefits of circular economy

Green Cross welcomes a new report from the Club of Rome that looks at real-world case studies of circular economy practices. The examples, from Sweden, show the significant economic benefits of adopting a circular approach.

In an op-ed published in the Guardian, Club of Rome co-President Anders Wijkman wrote that carbon emmissions could be reduced by as much as 70 per cent if a key set of circular economy policies were put in place.

“In addition, caring for items through repair, maintenance, upgrading and remanufacturing is far more labour-intensive than mining and manufacturing in highly automated facilities,” wrote Wijkman. “In moving to a more circular economy, the number of additional jobs would likely exceed 100,000 – cutting unemployment by more than a third.”

Green Cross, which is preparing to host an international conference on green and circular economies on 6-7 October, 2015, has long advocated the principles of efficiency and waste reduction as keys to prosperity as well as sustainability.

This report (the first of three planned for 2015 that will examine the Dutch and Spanish economies in addition to the Swedish one) suggests that 2015 is a key window of opportunity to start modernising the EU economy while boosting jobs and tackling climate change.

And Green Cross agrees.

“There is a growing business case for resource efficiency and green growth,” said Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International. “A key role must be played by relevant policies and practices that make sustainability as strategic for business as customers and profit – creating incentives for social and environmental transformation. We need to promote policies that offer long-term solutions and short-term benefits.”

The new report considers a number of policies and investments that would help advance a circular economy, benefit the climate and support the job market.

These include :

  • Strengthening existing policies in renewable energy, eco-design and emissions trading;
  • Establishing specific resource efficiency targets for materials where scarcity looms or the environmental impact of extraction is serious;
  • Strengthening recycling and reuse targets to help reduce and process waste and residues, and putting limits on waste incineration;
  • Using public procurement as an incentive for new business models, moving from selling products to selling performance;
  • Making the circular economy a core part of EU climate policies;
  • Launching investments to support the circular economy; and
  • Rethinking taxation (lowering taxes on labour, increasing taxes on the consumption of non-renewable resources and removing VAT from recycled materials).