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The Circularity Gap Report 2021

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

Circle Economy published their new annual report on circularity and it is useful to see some facts and metrics on the global transition towards a circular economy. While climate change is a widely acknowledged driving force of circularity, businesses of all sizes and authorities must have a better understanding of its implied benefits:

- efficient use and conservation of finite / limited resources

- regenerative business models

- create local supply chains

- stimulate innovation

- boost the local economy

to name a few. The report sets the focus for the years ahead, which cannot be possible without understanding the progress made so far. If in 2018 the global economy was 9.1% circular, shockingly it declined to 8.6% in 2020 in spite of the reduced levels of traffic air pollution imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns across the world, but explained by materials extraction, (for) stock build-up and inefficient use of resources (low rates of end of use processing and recycling).


Perfectly articulated in this report, the Covid-19 pandemic exposed our vulnerability: the vulnerability of our economy, environment and future, but we shall also add our social vulnerability. In order to mitigate the climate impact by curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the report proposes 21 interventions build around societal needs i.e. consumables, communications, housing, mobility, healthcare and nutrition. Circle Economy proposed solution is depicted below.

Adapting current products to circularity via fit-for-purpose (re)design and sustainable life cycles is vital. Information and communications technology (ICT) and digitalisation are practical enablers of the circular economy, with a potential to maximise the synergies between different industries i.e. industrial symbiosis.


While a uniform progress to circularity is not universally attainable, the report recommends "leadership and action" as a strategy to bridge the gaps and build back better:

  1. Build a diverse and inclusive coalition for action: involve businesses, government, non-governmental, non-profit groups (NGOs) and academics together.

  2. Provide guidance and (suitable) circularity strategies to sustain national climate pledges.

  3. From funding and market regulations: create a supportive environment to promote the circular transition.

To access the full report:

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