Why the circular economy is the business opportunity of our time

3 min read

Career Trends: June 1, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

The solution to sustain the rising consumption levels and urbanization lies in creating a circular economy.
(Image courtesy of Cambridge Judge Business School)

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Our global economy is growing, reaching an unprecedented $94 trillion in 2021 – with rising population, urbanisation and living standards. Our challenge now is to keep up this momentum in a way that works for people and the planet.

Looking at today’s consumption levels, sustaining our current growth trajectory would require the ecological resources of 2.3 planets by 2050. This number is significantly higher for mature markets. The US, for example, would need five planets to sustain present-day consumption levels; Germany would need three.

The good news is that a solution is within our reach.

We can decouple our world’s growth from the consumption of the Earth’s resources by shifting from a linear “take, make, waste” economy to a circular “reduce, reuse, recycle” one.

The business opportunity of our time

  • Creating a circular economy is the business opportunity of our time.
  • It strengthens local economies in a socially-inclusive way, creating far more jobs than taking the traditional linear approach to waste.
  • Enhancing circularity is an efficient lever to help society reach net-zero and by bringing our economy more into line with the Earth’s boundaries circularity is also clearly nature-positive.

Construction at the forefront

  • Some of the most exciting possibilities for a circular economy are in the construction sector.
  • Broad-based recycling of construction materials coupled with smart design could reduce CO2 emissions generated by buildings by over 30%.
  • Circularity is also good for construction jobs.
  • Transitioning to a circular economy will create a host of new jobs, from recycling and repair to digital and innovation-driven work.
  • In 2021, Holcim recycled 54 million tonnes of material to achieve their vision for construction, which is to build more new from the old with recycled materials in every new building.
  • They aim to promote reuse, with their advanced roofing, waterproofing, and insulation systems to enhance the energy efficiency of buildings and extend their lifespan.

Circular economy will have cities at the centre

  • With our world’s rapid urbanization, cities will be at the centre of this shift from a linear “take, make, waste” economy to a circular “reduce, reuse, recycle” one.
  • The city of Seattle, for example, recycles or composts nearly 60% of its municipal solid waste. Elsewhere, the ITC Maurya Hotel in Delhi is a LEED platinum-rated hotel that recycles 99% of its solid waste and sources 30% of food and beverages locally.
  • We urgently need to understand what the most innovative circular cities around the world are doing to expedite this shift.
  • Holcim has partnered with Bloomberg Media to create a Circular Cities Barometer to understand how cities are leading the shift to circular living for a sustainable future.
  • Covering 25 cities representing all regions of the world, they hope these insights will help inspire other cities to take action to enable change.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

How to Build the Essential People Management Skills

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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