ALL NEWS & UPDATES

January 16, 2023
Cutting material consumption by one-third is key to tackling climate change: study

Of the landmark 100 billion tonnes of virgin materials extracted from Earth annually, only 7.2% make it back into the economy. A more circular world could reduce material consumption by one-third, tackle climate change and bring the world back within safe planetary limits. 

16th January, Davos—Reducing global material use through circular solutions, such as reuse, repair, and recycling of items, can limit global warming to 2-degrees and bring human activities back within safe planetary boundaries1, according to a new report by impact organisation Circle Economy, in collaboration with Deloitte. The report was launched today in Davos, at the World Economic Forum. 

The global economy is measured to be 7.2% circular today—dropping from 9.1% in 2018 when Circle Economy first calculated the figure.2 It means that of the landmark 100 billion tonnes of virgin materials extracted from Earth annually, only 7.2% make it back into the economy in the form of recycled materials. Over the past six years alone, the global economy has extracted and used almost as many materials as over the course of the entire 20th century, finds the Circularity Gap Report 2023

Matthew Fraser, Head of Research and Development at Circle Economy, said that this low level of circularity ‘demonstrates how reliant the global economy is on new, virgin materials. There is huge potential to increase the global economy’s use of secondary materials.’

Current linear processes don’t just sap the planet’s finite materials—they also produce tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and waste, a considerable part of which can be prevented. According to the study, key societal needs—such as nutrition  and housing—could be fulfilled with just 70% of the materials the world economy currently consumes. Crucially, cutting material extraction by 30% will hugely improve environmental health across land, sea and air. The key to this reduction lies in the transition from fossil fuels to more renewable energy sources and lowering demand for high-volume minerals, such as sand and gravel, which are largely used for housing and infrastructure. In practice, it means boosting renewable energy and renovating old buildings and infrastructure instead of constructing new ones, in combination with other measures. The most appropriate approaches will vary significantly between geographies given the just transition imperative acknowledged in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

The potential reduction of material use will look different across global regions, some like the USA and EU member states, must radically reduce their material extraction and use, as they currently consume 31% of materials. While others such as China will need to stabilise their material consumption. 

‘The linear economy has a number of detrimental effects on the environment that significantly affect peoples' wellbeing. Our research shows that by adopting circular economy practices, we can cut material extraction, continue to prosper, and return to living within the safe limits of this planet,’ points out Martijn Lopes Cardozo, CEO at Circle Economy.  

This graph illustrates how key materials flow into different parts of the economy—including additions to stock and waste—and highlights where the circular strategies (narrow, slow, regenerate and cycle) may be most appropriate. 

Delivering more benefit with fewer materials

According to the Circularity Gap Report 2023, four key global systems account for the lion’s share of global emissions and waste—the Built environment, Food systems, Mobility and transport, and Manufactured goods and consumables. 16 ambitious circular economy solutions implemented across these systems can reverse the current overshoot of five planetary boundaries, ensuring safety for land, air and water and limiting global warming to below 2-degrees. 

The food system now occupies roughly half of the habitable surface of the planet. It is responsible for one-third of global GHG emissions, 8–10% of which relate to the production of lost and wasted food. Transitioning to a circular food system would include cutting food waste by improving transport and storage management, supporting healthy soils to keep land arable for longer and focusing on local, seasonal and organic produce to reduce the need for toxic fertilisers, fuel and transportation.      

The built environment accounts for roughly 40% of global GHG emissions, with cement production alone contributing around 7% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere globally. Boosting building’s energy efficiency and repurposing existing building stock are just some of the ways this could be improved.     

The mobility and transport system is a major driver of climate change and ocean acidification, responsible for approximately 25% of GHG emissions globally. In a circular mobility system, walking, cycling and remote work would be key, as would investment in high-quality public transport and a transition to electric vehicles.     

Manufactured goods and consumables imply highly energy- and material-intensive industrial processes. The Circularity Gap Report 2023 estimates that over one-quarter of global solid waste generation is industrial waste. This could be improved with more sustainable fashion practices, promotion of responsible buying and extending the lifetime of machinery.      

Dieuwertje Ewalts, director Circular economy and sustainability at Deloitte, commented: ‘These findings reinforce that we have reached a point where the planet cannot keep up with the human demand for material goods. Circularity offers us the opportunity to reduce planetary pressures. Involvement from business and the creation of more circular products going forward will be key in creating a positive impact for both the planet and society.’ 

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1Nine quantifiable and interrelated planetary boundaries within which humanity can safely continue to thrive: crossing these boundaries increases the risk of causing irreversible environmental changes, threatening human life on Earth. Developed in 2009 by Johan Rockström, former director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, together with 28 world renowned scientists. Find out more on the Stockholm Resilience Centre website.

2Circle Economy has improved its methodology each year, with 2023 marking the most significant modification to our calculations. While this allows us to make more accurate accounts, it also means that this year’s Circularity Metric can’t be directly or accurately compared with previous years. Nevertheless, we can say with certainty that the rising rate of global material extraction and use is causing the rate of circularity to shrink.

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December 21, 2022
From parliament to shopping centres: the ten+ places Circle Economy has made impact

Circle Economy is excited to announce the launch of the Impact Report 2022. Following a year of circular analysis for businesses, cities and nations, we focused our attention inwards to assess our impacts across three key actions: analyse, act and scale. Looking back at 2022, we are delighted to witness the circular economy increasingly gaining a place on policymakers’ agendas worldwide. Below are some of the most inspiring examples of how we’ve put circularity into action. 

In 2022, we have empowered seven businesses, 11 cities and 11 nations across four continents to become more circular. This contributes to the total of 120 businesses, 51 cities and 23 nations across six continents that we’ve aided over the past ten years. We’ve also trained more than 2,700 people across 350 organisations in circular principles over the past decade. 

Zooming in on the practical outcomes of our work, we’ve supplied multiple businesses, cities and nations with the data-driven insights instrumental for their circular transitions. Thanks to the Circularity Gap Report Sweden, for example, Swedish stakeholders have discovered significant gaps in the country’s audacious net zero 2045 plan. 

‘The Circularity Gap Report Sweden came as a significant enrichment but also as a surprise. Though in the past we have placed a lot of emphasis on recycling and lowering Sweden's carbon footprint, we realised there is still a lot to be done in terms of circularity’, said Carl Jensen, Project Manager at RISE, a Swedish research institute. 

In Northern Ireland, the regional Department for the Economy (DfE) used our Circularity Gap Report Northern Ireland to inform future circular policy development and reported about this to the UK parliament. 

In the meantime, our business team has empowered international retail chain Action to open its very first Circular Product Specialist position. Since 2020, we’ve conducted ‘circle scans’ for the retailer’s 13 product lines—from gardening and home goods to technology—and have trained more than 25 stakeholders, enabling Action to make more sustainable decisions when determining the items that will crop up on its shelves. 

Later in the year, we partnered with Fasion for Good for the collaborative Sorting for Circularity Europe initiative, which produced a global database of 100+ textile recyclers to stimulate a recycling market for unwanted textiles. This will help textile sorters to find suitable recyclers and prevent tonnes of materials from going to waste every year. 

A number of powerful collaborations went live and bore their first fruits this year. As a culmination of work with an International Financial Institution (IFI) exchange network, we published the Circular Finance Roadmap to unleash the power of IFIs to fund the circular transition. In 2022, we also became an accredited organisation under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and developed joint initiatives with Chatham House, the World Bank and the International Labour Organization (ILO)

Last but not least, our digital team launched landmark initiatives, catalysing our 11 years of research and development of circular solutions and putting them into the service of the global online community. A beta version of the GANBATTE online platform went live—currently focusing on cities but with more to come soon.

‘To date, the open-access ganbatte.world platform has been visited by over 1,100 unique cities around the world, and more than 20 cities have reached out to take next steps in just a matter of weeks. The platform currently contains data for 6,000 cities around the world with baseline data, case studies and tools—and this is only the beginning,’ says Ivonne Bojoh, COO & Director Digital at Circle Economy.

And, at the Web Summit Lisbon 2022, we unveiled Circularity Academy, a gamified e-learning platform meant to assess, engage and inspire people, with the aim of getting them involved in the circular transition. ‘This year, we have delivered a circular economy learning track to a top management consulting firm, to train over 1,000 consultants,’ adds Ivonne Bojoh.

These are only a few highlights from the Impact Report 2022. Download the full report to read about more good news for circularity around the globe. 

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December 19, 2022
Circle Economy discussed the circular future for European industries

On the 22nd of November, we launched three reports on the circular future of three European industries: automotive, machinery and equipment and construction.  Developed in collaboration with Bain & Company, the studies were presented during webinars featuring industry leaders as well as authors from Circle Economy and Bain & Company.  

The webinars were kicked-off by Marc de Wit, our Director of Businesses, who linked the reports to unparalleled challenges people and businesses encounter today: ‘We are confronted with what the linear economy has brought us. Forest fires, floods, droughts, famine—these are all negative impacts of 1.1-degree warming, with huge ramifications for personal lives, livelihoods and industries. It is our responsibility to fix this’.

Based on our Circularity Gap Reports, we identified key ‘broken elements’ in the global economy and teamed up with Bain & Company to zoom in on three of them: mobility, built environment and machinery. By implementing circular solutions across these systems, businesses can slash emissions and material use while bolstering profitability and supply chain resilience. However, circular transformation requires tackling specific challenges. 

One of them, as noted by Harry Morrison, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Partner  at Bain & Company, is the misaligned incentives across different economic actors. In a linear economy, companies address only one part of the value chain while disregarding the rest—be it production, sales or waste management. In contrast, bringing pre-used materials back into the loop requires closer collaboration between stakeholders. Sharing takeaways from Bain & Company’s survey, Harry Morrisson named the lack of collaboration across value chains as the top barrier to circularity for the machinery and equipment industry. ‘But the top success factor was having built an ecosystem and having the right partnerships in place’, pointed out the analyst.  

His assessment was mirrored by Adrien Bron, Partner at Bain & Company, who spoke about the European construction sector. According to Adrien, three parties in a typical construction project—designers, construction companies and owners—have been struggling to align their interests. This impedes a wider deployment of novel and secondary materials, for example. To address this bottleneck, Adrien Bron suggested implementing policies and fiscal interventions that can challenge the status quo in the sector.

Another  valid solution for all three industries is, as Giuseppe Della Greca, Circular Economy expert at Enel Group put it, ‘increasing the transparency of material flows through the value chain’. For the built environment, this can mean an ‘online booking system’ that allows for tracking and tracing of building components for potential reuse and recycling. Christian Veddeler, Senior Associate at 3XN Architects, highlighted that one should know what materials are locked in buildings, adding: ‘This also helps during the lifetime of a building when it comes to maintenance and repair because you can anticipate what the life cycle of a building component is so it can be properly addressed and replaced’. 

Owain Griffiths, Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars, spoke about the challenges that car-makers encounter while going circular.

Experts agreed that raising the costs of linear production and incentivising circular solutions is key to behavioural change both for consumers and producers. Speaking about the mobility-as-a-service model, Owain Griffiths, Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars, pointed out that some customer segments might not switch to car-sharing until the use of personal vehicles becomes pricier through increased taxes, for example. 

As added by Adrien Bron, new buildings today are ‘awfully cheap’ because they don’t include the costs created after the construction is completed. On the contrary,  retrofit projects, which imply adding new components to existing buildings, are pricey. According to the analyst, tackling this problem will require ‘increasing the cost of new build by internalising the costs and, at the same time, decreasing the cost of retrofit by making the processes more efficient and more modular’.

However, businesses and policymakers should also think about ‘carrots’. According to Luc Delestrade, Head of Energy and Environment at Distinct Energies, customers must be offered some boons to opt for a circular house. ‘The idea is to go back to the original design of a building and preserve the best of it while making it attractive to modern customers. The attractiveness will come from comfort and affordability, so it’s just about finding what area might be improved. It might be energy performance, insulation or just retrofitting the windows’, said the expert. 

Luc Delestrade, Head of Energy and Environment at Distinct Energies, spoke about ways to increase the attractiveness of circular construction projects.

For the automotive industry, such an advantage can be flexibility which comes with the mobility-as-a-service model. Especially for city dwellers who can, for example, rent a car for a weekend while bypassing traffic jams with public transport during the working week.  As Björn Noack, Partner at Bain & Company, argued: ‘Flexibility is of such high value for the younger generation, at least in urban areas. If we have the right services to offer to these people, I clearly see the balance shifting’.  

Curious to learn more? Read the full reports and watch the recordings of the webinars.

Beyond recycling: The circular opportunity for passenger cars in Europe


Read the report here.

Watch the recording here.

A circular future for the European machinery & equipment industry

Read the report here.

Watch the recording here.

A circular future for the European construction sector: light commercial and residential buildings

Read the report here.

Watch the recording here.

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December 16, 2022
Circle Economy and CircularIQ join forces to help businesses identify and implement circular solutions driven by data

Amsterdam, 16 December 2022

Circle Economy and Circular IQ are starting a new collaboration through which they will work together advising clients in identifying, evaluating and implementing circular solutions. Together, Circle Economy and CircularIQ will enable clients to follow a data-driven approach to gain business-critical intelligence in the performance of their global supply chains.  

Monitoring circularity metrics and data are becoming one of the key success factors for businesses to remain ahead of the game and soon they are required to comply with regulation. In joining forces to uncover data that today is often unavailable, incomplete and incomparable, Circular IQ and Circle Economy will empower clients to take charge of their circular performance and decide where their actions and investments are most impactful.

The collaboration will harness Circular IQ’s leading software solution, the data-driven CTI tool, along with Circle Economy’s track record deploying their Circle Scan to identify impact hotspots and key levers for circular change. The collaboration also builds on Circle Economy’s existing digital solutions such as the Circularity Assessment Tool and Circularity Academy. By going to market together, the organisations expect impact on this important space for companies that want to but don’t know how to start their circular journey and transform their operations according to circular principles. The joint approach helps companies set up the basics, prioritise actions, develop a plan and monitor progress on their circular performance. CircularIQ and Circle Economy will jointly offer clients new and unique engagement models that were not available before the partnership.

“Together with Circle Economy, Circular IQ’s customers will have access to best-in-class consulting support and analytics capabilities to align and scale follow-up actions towards meeting company targets”, said Roy Vercoulen, CEO of Circular IQ

“We are really excited to partner with Circular IQ as together we are able to offer an end-to-end solution allowing clients to monitor, steer and scale their circular activities” said Marc de Wit, Director of Businesses at Circle Economy

About Circular IQ

Circular IQ is a software startup that delivers best in class SaaS solutions for businesses across the globe that seek to deliver on their sustainability promises. Our vision is that for the circular economy to thrive, data-driven solutions that move the needle are needed immediately. Not just any solutions; but solutions aimed at improving your business impacts. Software has an important role to play as actions require decisions. More impactful decisions are made when the information that fuels them improves. Currently 91% of the materials mined are wasted after being used once. Our software enables businesses to take effective action to improve their impacts in the area of resource depletion, global warming and waste generation by showing them how their use of materials is linked to these impacts. 

About Circle Economy

Circle Economy is a global impact organisation with an international team of passionate experts based in Amsterdam. We empower businesses, cities and nations with practical and scalable solutions to put the circular economy into action. Our vision is an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. To avoid climate breakdown, our goal is to double global circularity by 2032. Circle Economy’s business practice provides consulting services, supporting forward-thinking leaders and businesses in identifying, evaluating and implementing circular solutions. We apply a differentiated and unique data-driven and fact based supply chain approach, applying established methodologies of both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Find out more at circle-economy.com

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November 29, 2022
Circle Economy to discuss global circular value chains at WCEF 2022

We are excited to join circular thinkers and doers at the World Circular Economy Forum 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. Held in Africa for the first time, the forum will shed light on the role the circular economy plays in global value chains, social justice, climate, biodiversity and more. Open and free for everyone online, it will provide food for thought for circular professionals and newbies alike. Read on for an overview of the sessions we will co-organise and participate in. 

‘Circular Trade and Value Chains’

African suppliers are too often the lowest-paid actors in global value chains and the first to suffer from the environmental repercussions of rich countries’ overconsumption. How can we ensure the circular economy works for, not against African nations?

This session will explore the possibilities and challenges related to trade and the circular economy in Africa, elaborating on the continent’s role in global circular value chains and intra-continental trade with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Following a discussion on the principles for more just and inclusive circular trade, a panel discussion on electronic waste and tech trade in Africa will take place. 

Practical information

Date and time: 6th of December, from 14:40 to 15:50 CAT (13:40 to 14:50 CET)
Organisers: Chatham House, UNIDO, International Chamber of Commerce, Circle Economy, The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the UN Environment Programme. 

Find the recording here.

‘Circular policies without borders’

The new EU Circular Economy Action Plan uses incentives and requirements to accelerate circular production and consumption. However well-intended, it may lead to trade barriers for some developing countries, which might struggle to comply with the new regulations. 

This session will examine the implications of EU circular economy policies for producers and exporters in developing countries. It seeks to answer the question ‘What can be done to maximise the benefits and mitigate potential trade barriers?’ by showcasing policy, trade and finance solutions for the plastics and textile industries in several developing markets. 


This event is part of Accelerator Sessions, practice-oriented talks that will link WCEF 2022 with the daily work needed for a circular transition. 

Practical information

Date and time: 8th of December, from 10:30 to 11:50 CAT (9:30 to 10:50 CET)
Organisers: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Chatham House, Circle Economy, European Investment Bank, SWITCH to Green Facility and DG INTPA

Find the recording here.

‘Increasing the circularity of fashion’

The global textile and garment sector is a major emitter of CO2 and consumer of raw materials. Circular business models and designs can lower the negative impacts of the industry by retaining the value of textiles, extending their life cycles and boosting the use of recycled materials.

But how can the fashion industry put this potential into practice? This session will address this question by delving into the required technical, social and business innovations. It will also investigate the necessary shifts in production and consumption practices as well as in policies and education.


This event is part of Accelerator Sessions, practice-oriented talks that will link WCEF 2022 with the daily work needed for a circular transition. 

Practical information

Date and time: 8th of December, from 12:15 to 13:30 CAT (11:15 to 12:30 CET)
Organisers: United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), MedWaves, SWITCH to Green Facility, Chatham House and Circle Economy.

Find the recording here.

‘Achieving social justice in a global circular economy’

Circularity does not end at national borders. To build a truly inclusive and just economy, businesses and governments must consider the social and economic impacts of circular interventions globally. This online side event held on the 27th of October explored the implications of a circular economy for workers and employers in a globalised economy. 

The session discussed the latest paper from Circle Economy's Circular Jobs Initiative, which highlights the role of three key levers to address the oversights and assumptions of prevailing narratives on the circular economy: consider people beyond your borders; trade responsibly; and exchange know-how and means. 

Practical information

Participants: Circle Economy, International Labour Organization (ILO), Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising, Or Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands. 

See the recording here.

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November 1, 2022
Circle Economy launches Circularity Academy to close the green skills gap

Circle Economy, an impact organisation based in the Netherlands, launched Circularity Academy (CAMY) at the Web Summit 2022. CAMY is a gamified e-learning platform to assess, engage, train and activate people to enable the circular transition. Developed in collaboration with Sustainability Games, Circularity Academy addresses the green skills gap: the lack of professionals able to fulfil the rapidly growing demand for circular jobs. 

CAMY provides a continuous learning experience composed of journeys and minigames—fun and easy yet in-depth. It is geared towards assessing the circular assets of an organisation or a team, raising awareness about the circular economy, creating collective understanding, developing and certifying circular skills, and tracking progress along the pathway to sustainability. These modular elements can be used separately or all at once, depending on the needs of an organisation.

‘The green skills gap is one of the main bottlenecks for businesses engaged in the circular economy, from multinationals to small firms. With Circularity Academy, we are helping them to manage and assess their team’s knowledge and skills, putting these assets into action,’ points out Marc de Wit, Director Businesses at Circle Economy.

Our experts co-create learning tracks with clients to finetune game experiences according to the industry and team specifics. The result is simultaneous education and engagement for hundreds of people—helping close the green skills gap at scale. 

The platform can be compared to a restaurant menu with lessons, minigames and tests for dishes. This allows one to pick and choose tracks and journeys for specific purposes: from a fun activity at an event to a fully-fledged training programme for employees. Learning journeys typically consist of reading materials, videos, questionnaires and minigames, both individually- and team-played. CAMY is well-suited for entities that are just embarking on their circular journey and want to make sure that all people involved are on the same page and equipped with basic knowledge.

Circularity Academy is based on 11 years of circular economy research by Amsterdam-based Circle Economy. In addition to conducting research, we develop and pilot circular solutions—and we know what works and what doesn't. Complemented by over 4,800 case studies around the world, the Circularity Academy learning tracks are relatable, understandable and practical. The gamification element makes it fun, challenging and engaging. It is our mission to close the green skills gap to close the global Circularity Gap. This is the second product we’ve launched in line with our strategy to leverage technology to accelerate the global transition to an economic system where the planet and all people can thrive,’ says Ivonne Bojoh, COO & Director Digital at Circle Economy.

Circle Economy believes that businesses around the world, as well as local and national governments, must join hands to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and avoid climate breakdown. Closing the Circularity Gap starts with bridging the knowledge gap. Circularity Academy provides the means to do this on a mass scale, encouraging not just education but also the adoption of circular narratives. The goal of the tool is to educate 100 million people over the next ten years, empowering businesses, cities and nations to go circular. 

Learn more about Circularity Academy at www.circularityacademy.com

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For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact Amy Kummetha at amy@circle-economy.

About Circle Economy 

We are a global impact organisation with an international team of passionate experts based in Amsterdam. We empower businesses, cities and nations with practical and scalable solutions to put the circular economy into action. Our vision is an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. To avoid climate breakdown, our goal is to double global circularity by 2032. To find out more, visit https://www.circle-economy.com/impact.

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November 1, 2022
Circle Economy announces change of COO

Amsterdam, November 1, 2022 – Circle Economy announces that as of today, Maria Grazia Testa, Circle Economy’s current COO, will step down, handing over her responsibilities to Ivonne Bojoh, currently Director Digital and interim COO. Circle Economy wishes to thank Maria for her gracious and invaluable support to the organisation.

 

Robert-Jan van Ogtrop, Founder & Chairman of the Supervisory Board: “We thank Maria for her wonderful contribution. Under her guidance, the operations and strategy of our foundation have improved in stability, efficiency, and financial resilience. Great examples of Maria’s contribution are the set-up of a centralised PMO team, a robust reporting framework, and an expansive process library enabling operational efficiency. In addition, she has implemented solid end to end HR, financial and legal structures and processes. Maria leaves Circle Economy in a strong position – both from an operational and a project execution perspective. Together with the management team, Maria has taken Circle Economy to a more professional and stronger performance which ensures the foundation can continue to deliver on its impact goals. We are grateful to Maria and wish her all the best.”

Maria will continue to support and be engaged with Circle Economy as an ambassador for the organisation and as a valued member of its Alumni Community.

 

Maria Grazia Testa:

”I joined Circle Economy in 2018 when the organisation still felt like a little family on a mission on behalf of Mother Earth, with many trail blazing activities streaming relentlessly from its committed hearts and enviably talented minds. Today the organisation has grown its impact thanks to the scalability at the core of its systemic, scientifically savvy and technically elegant, approach to a theme as central as sustainability. I am very proud that my experience could help bolstering this work with the deserved Strategic and Operational Excellence, and that our strive for continuous improvement has in turn gained the confident collaboration of many partners and funders, gathered around the same mission.

 

I would like to thank Circle Economy’s team, for their dedication to the SDGs, to the circular economy, to our planet and to social justice. Let’s see together that the vision this planet deserves is accomplished.

 

My quest to be a multiplier for the good and the brave, leading organisations in transition, cultivating leadership, and magnifying human potential, will continue through my new project, The Best Journey Ever. If you would like to know more, keep in touch or be involved, follow me there.”

 

In January 2023, Circle Economy, along with its partners, will launch the “Circularity Gap Report" for the 6th time.

Press contact:

Please reach out to our press office at press@circle-economy.com if you are interested in featuring the press release and/or have an interview request.

 

About Circle Economy

We are a global impact organisation with an international team of passionate experts based in Amsterdam. We empower businesses, cities and nations with practical and scalable solutions to put the circular economy into action. Our vision is an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. To avoid climate breakdown, our goal is to double global circularity by 2032.

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October 31, 2022
Circle Economy presents ways to tackle climate change through the circular economy at COP27

The Circle Economy team is heading to the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. On the 11th and 17th of November, we will be talking about the future of humanity—and why we must go circular. Along with our partners, we’ll shed light on how circular economy strategies align with the climate agenda, as well as how they can contribute to halting climate breakdown. 

‘Increasing the circularity of the world economy is a tool to combat climate change. Circle Economy has always been a practice-oriented organisation. At COP27, we are going to share our hands-on expertise to help businesses, cities and nations talk less and act more—providing practicable solutions for their climate transformation,’ notes Circle Economy CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo in the run-up to the conference.

Here is an overview of the sessions we will participate in:

Laying the groundwork for a circular Latin America 

A growing economic powerhouse that’s home to a wealth of unique ecosystems, Latin America is at the heart of the global climate transition. To  present and discuss the methodology to develop the Circularity Gap Report (CGR) for this region, we will participate in a presentation called 'The Circularity Gap Report for Latin America and the Caribbean: Establishing a regional baseline for the circular economy'. This COP27 event will be held on the 11th of November, from 09:30 to 10:15 EET, at EuroKlima Pavilion and is co-organised by IDB, IDB Invest, UNEP, ECLAC, and Strategic Partners of the Circular Economy Coalition for Latin America and the Caribbean.

This presentation—and corresponding project—is part of our Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative. This Circularity Gap Report aims to enable national stakeholders in Latin America to better understand opportunities for change and the benefits of a circular economy for the labour market, environmental conservation and climate change mitigation, thus enabling Latin America to be compared with other geographies. The baseline analysis can then serve as a ground for developing more nuanced Circularity Gap Reports for Latin American nations. 

Navigating through murky waters of circular indicators

How do governments and businesses track circularity in their value chains and set tangible climate targets? Surprisingly, harmonised and widely adopted circular metrics are still lacking. This makes circular target-setting self-defined, self-serving and lacking accountability, and impedes progress towards net zero. The good news is that public and private circular indicators are taking shape, and beginning to form a coherent framework. The Circular Economy Indicators Coalition (CEIC) will discuss the latest developments in this field at the session 'Linking circular economy progress to climate impact: Guidance for governments and businesses', on the 17th of November, from 14:30-15:30 EET, at the Business Pavilion.

The CEIC is a collaboration between PACE and Circle Economy, in partnership with Accenture. It is aimed at supporting corporate circular target-setting by providing best practice indicators that will enable businesses in various sectors to share the same standards for circularity. CEIC will also equip businesses with tools to define, set and track meaningful circular targets. 

A bottom-up approach to green urbanisation 

Cities generate the bulk of global GDP and the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions. As the centres of education and innovation, urban areas also hold the keys to green transition, including through the circular economy. Cities Alliance and  ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability have organised the session 'Tackling urbanisation, climate and poverty in cities through circular economy' to examine how cities can go circular and improve their citizens' livelihoods at the same time. Circle Economy will join colleagues from EMF, Arup, Cities Alliance and ICLEI on stage on the 17th of November, from 14:00 to 14:40 EET, at the Action Hub. 

Traditionally, cities have taken a top-down approach: mandating particular policies for their inhabitants, for example. However, we argue that a bottom-up approach is also viable for transforming typical cities into circular cities. Informal settlements and economies can serve as a starting point for circular transformation because circular practices—such as repair and reuse—are already common there. This session will also elaborate on means for cooperation between different economies to ensure more inclusive, sustainable urban growth.

Paving the way to more effective circular finance

Most climate initiatives today focus on the renewable energy transition and boosting energy efficiency—yet research shows that 70% of greenhouse gas emissions stem from material use and handling. This is why the circular economy, which cuts industrial emissions, is instrumental in achieving climate goals. Yet, despite a growing appetite for circular investment, financiers struggle to make informed decisions and still view circular projects as risky. As of today, circular investment lacks a unified assessment standard and understanding of the potential value and risk.

To address these challenges, we co-formed the Financial Institution Circularity Exchange Network, which includes international financial institutions (IFIs), private banks and non-profits and is supported by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands. At the EIB/Benelux Pavilion, on the 17th of November, from 17:30 to 19:00, we will present the brainchild of this collaboration: the ‘Circular finance roadmap for international financial institutions'. It proposes a series of concrete steps to unlock the potential of IFIs to fund the circular transformation. With this proposed agenda, we hope to motivate major finance organisations to develop a formalised roadmap for more effective investment in the circular economy. 

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