A shared vision for a circular economy.
Resources are fundamental to our society and well-being. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation have put immense pressure on the world’s natural resources, degrading fragile ecosystems, and it is now renewable energy and digital technologies that are driving new demand for resources.
At the same time, societies are becoming increasingly wasteful – the International Resource Panel estimates annual resource use per capita will grow by over 70 per cent by 2050. Smarter and more efficient use of resources presents an opportunity to mitigate the threats of resource scarcity and adverse environmental impacts while reaping economic benefits of $US 2 trillion annually by 2050.
This opportunity has not gone unnoticed.
Change is underway with countries and businesses alike developing strategies to decouple resource use from economic growth, while promoting environmental health and social well-being. The concept of circular economy – where products and processes are redesigned to avoid waste and maximise the value of resources through re-use, remanufacturing and recycling – is creating a new vision for sustainable economies.
To create change, the technical and human dimensions of production and consumption cycles need to be considered. Doing so requires understanding the complex resource lifecycle – from mining or growing, to manufacturing, consumption and end-of-life; and, evaluating the potential of strategies promoting product stewardship and responsible resource management.