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WEF Davos: Why the circular economy is the business opportunity of our time

- Sustaining our current consumption levels would require the resources of 2.3 planets by 2050.

- Shifting to a circular economy, where we reduce, reuse and recycle, can decouple the world's growth from consumption.

- A push for circularity in construction and cities can create jobs and reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Our global economy is growing, reaching an unprecedented $94 trillion in 2021 – with rising population, urbanization and living standards. Our challenge now is to keep up this momentum in a way that works for people and the planet.

Looking at today’s consumption levels, sustaining our current growth trajectory would require the ecological resources of 2.3 planets by 2050. This number is significantly higher for mature markets. The US, for example, would need five planets to sustain present-day consumption levels; Germany would need three.

The good news is that a solution is within our reach. We can decouple our world’s growth from the consumption of the Earth’s resources by shifting from a linear “take, make, waste” economy to a circular “reduce, reuse, recycle” one.

The business opportunity of our time

Creating a circular economy is the business opportunity of our time. It strengthens local economies in a socially-inclusive way, creating far more jobs than taking the traditional linear approach to waste. The repairing and leasing economy creates even more jobs. Enhancing circularity is an efficient lever to help society reach net-zero and by bringing our economy more into line with the Earth’s boundaries circularity is also clearly nature-positive.

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