Circularity Gap Report 2024 warns of widening consumption hole

The latest edition of the Circularity Gap Report, a collaboration between Circle Economy and Deloitte, paints a concerning picture of the global economy’s resource utilization. While the circular economy concept gains traction, the report reveals a steadily declining circularity rate, dropping from 9.1% in 2018 to 7.2% in 2023. This translates to a widening consumption gap – the difference between the amount of resources we use and what we manage to keep in circulation.

Despite growing awareness and discussions, the global material crisis is worsening. We’re consuming resources faster than ever, and our reliance on virgin materials is increasing, not decreasing.

Matthew Fraser, Head of Research & Development at Circle Economy

The report identifies key trends contributing to this trend:

  • Growing demand for materials: Population growth, urbanization, and rising living standards are driving up resource use across various sectors.
  • Limited progress in recycling and reuse: While recycling rates have improved in some regions, they remain insufficient to meet the growing demand for secondary materials.
  • Linear business models still dominant: Many businesses continue to operate under a “take-make-dispose” model, leading to significant resource waste.

The report outlines a “Shift, Grow, Build” framework for different income groups to bridge the gap:

  • High-income countries: Focus on shifting consumption patterns towards more sustainable products and services, while growing circular business models and infrastructure.
  • Middle-income countries: Grow circularity through investments in collection and sorting systems, and promote shift in consumption patterns.
  • Low-income countries: Build the foundation for circularity by focusing on basic infrastructure, waste management systems, and securing access to essential resources.

The report also calls for systemic change, urging policymakers, businesses, and individuals to collaborate and implement concrete actions. This includes:

  • Stronger policies that incentivize circularity and discourage virgin material use.
  • Unlocking investment for circular infrastructure and innovation.
  • Addressing the skill gap to support the transition to a circular economy.

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