The global world economy is only 8.6% circular

The Circularity Gap Report 2022

Newsflash, 15th February 2022

The Circularity Gap of the global world economy has not improved. Over the past five years the reports have investigated how linear the world still is. Currently, only 8.6% of the 100 billion tonnes of resources consumed each year are recycled, leaving a massive Circularity Gap of over 90%.

In addition, the high consumption of resources and the resulting waste are linked to many environmental problems, from the loss of biodiversity to climate change and global plastic pollution. The 2022 report demonstrates how the circular economy can help reduce resource-use and emissions and enable equitable societies. It presents a roadmap of 21 circular solutions that companies, cities and nations can implement to reduce resource extraction and use by 28%, therefore cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 39% and getting the world on a 1.5-degree pathway.

The roadmap categorizes human needs and wants into seven categories. These include nutrition, housing, mobility, consumables, healthcare, communications and services. Each of the 21 circular interventions relates to one of these topics and describes how greenhouse gas emissions and material use can be reduced in the respective category. One example of such a solution are »circular consumables«, which can be generated by raising plastic recycling levels, among other things. However, it must be noted that each country must tailor the roadmap to suit their context and populations. According to the report, the combined 21 circular solutions can almost double the current global Circularity Metric of 8.6% and increase it to 17%.

Whilst this roadmap is a powerful addition to the clean-energy transition already underway, the scale of change needed can only be achieved by discarding business as usual behaviours and overcoming linear thinking. Companies, cities and states all have an important, yet different, role to play in promoting circular solutions. Transitioning to a full circular economy within a generation requires urgent and large-scale action across all parts of society. National and local governments will need to provide a framework and enabling conditions, consumers will need to make choices that promote the circular economy, and businesses will need to redesign their processes and products from the ground up.

The Circularity Gap Reports provide high-level insights into the globe’s material flows and key levers for transitioning to circularity. They also support decision-makers with clear metrics, global data and a measurement of the circular economy to guide their action. The 2022 report is the fifth edition of the Circularity Gap Report. 

Source: Circle Economy (2022) The Circularity Gap Report 2022 (pp. 1-64, Rep.). Amsterdam: Circle Economy.