The next decade is decisive to improve the future of the Earth and, for this, to continue moving towards a circular model is essential. The current economy is only 8.6% circular, which leaves a large gap open, which would be closed by increasing circularity by 8.4%, that is, practically double what is currently done. Thus, it would be possible to close the emissions gap in 2032 and reduce the rate of global warming, according to the report ‘The Circularity Gap Report 2021’, prepared by Circle Economy.

However, the pace at which progress is being made in this regard is not positive, as, while the 2020 report revealed that the global economy was 8.6% circular, it was only 9.1% two years earlier, and the situation has worsened. Thus, although only doubling the current circularity is needed to close the gap, it is clear that the world is still mired in the ‘take-make-waste’ model and is far from the ‘zero waste’ model of the circular economy.

While in 2020 the world economy was 8.6% circular, two years earlier it was 9.1%, so the situation has worsened

The hectic activity of the economies has caused the world to consume 100,000 million tons of materials today and the planet’s temperature has increased by one degree. This rate, however, slowed to levels never seen when COVID-19 broke into the world in 2020. This fact, although temporary, has demonstrated the social and economic changes that can be made.

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There is no doubt that such changes are necessary, because, while all countries that committed themselves to climate action under the Paris Agreement are on schedule, temperature increases will reach 3.2 degrees this century. Global warming is showing no signs of slowing down and the reality is that many vulnerable countries and cities will face catastrophes that will threaten a large part of the population.

Therefore, changing course also requires a change in the mindset and way of managing global economies and societies. And this transformation is the circular economy. The circularity gap report provides a quantitative map of how greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and resource management relate to their life cycle.

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Handling and use of materials account for 70% of the GHGs emitted. But applying circular strategies at this point ensures that it continues to deliver the same result, or better, with less material and less emissions. In numbers, through smart strategies and reduced material consumption, the circular economy has the power to reduce global GHG emissions by 39% and reduce the use of virgin resources by 28%.