The Business Case for a Circular Economy: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as a Solution to Coming Shortages of Raw Materials

On January 24 at the the World Economic Forum, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched Project Mainstream, a collaborative project involving large enterprises capable of bringing the circular economy from small-scale pilot projects to the mainstream of business. The press release states: “With commodity prices almost tripling in the last 10 years, businesses and governments are now recognizing this as an opportunity to manage input cost volatility, as this approach decouples economic growth from finite supplies of primary resources.” Towards the Circular Economy, the report which accompanied the launch, finds that “over US$1 trillion a year could be generated by 2025 for the global economy and 100,000 new jobs created for the next five years if companies focused on encouraging the build-up of circular supply chains to increase the rate of recycling, reuse and remcircular economy v 3anufacture.” As an article in The Guardian points out, this initiative intends to tackle the scale and complexity of global supply chains-as well as a crucial stumbling block in recycling – the toxic contents of some products. Canadian readers will be familiar with these concepts from the 2013 report, Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Zero Waste in BC, which focused on the benefits to consumers and the environment. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published reports on the Circular Economy since 2010.

LINKS:

Towards the Circular Economy Vol.3: Accelerating the Scale-up Across Global Supply Chains is available from a link at: http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/business/reports/ce2014, and previous reports are available at: http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/business/reports

“Circular Economy offers Business Transformation and $1tn of Savings” (Jan. 24) in The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/circular-economy-business-transformation-one-trillion-savings

Closing the Loop: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Through Zero Waste in BC, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Climate Justice Project (March 2013) is available at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/closing-loop

Future Green Jobs and Workplaces: The Need for Health and Safety Protection

A report released by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work identifies and forecasts the key new technologies that may be introduced in green jobs by 2020, and the possible risks they will bring to the workplace. The report constructs three scenarios (win-win; bonus world; and  deep green), and for each scenario, forecasts the future of jobs in wind energy, green construction, waste management and recycling; green transport; green manufacturing; domestic and small-scale energy; energy storage and transmission.  It concludes with wide-ranging and thoughtful observations about the likely changes to work processes and materials, and argues convincingly that there is “a need for a systematic, prior OSH assessment of any new technology, product and process at a very early development stage that considers the entire life cycle, from ‘cradle to cradle’ (i.e. including design, manufacture, transport, installation, operation and maintenance, decommissioning, treatment of waste and later reuse). Integrating prevention into the design is more efficient, as well as cheaper, than retrofitting OSH; this needs to start now for safe future green jobs.”

LINKS

Green jobs and occupational safety and health: Foresight on new and merging risks associated with new technologies by 2020 is at https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/green-jobs-foresight-new-emerging-risks-technologies