Creating a circular economy for materials could unlock new value and address the massive societal and environmental threats posed by our current model.

 

THE CHALLENGE

  • Between 1970 to 2010, the annual global use of materials grew from 26.7 to 75.6 billion tonnes. 
  • Linear models of resource use create structural waste worth US$630 billion in Europe alone.
  • Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean. Microplastics have been discovered in 114 aquatic species, and more than half of them end up on our dinner plates. 
  • This challenge, however, is not just a social or environmental issue; it is also economic. Today, 95% of plastic packaging value—or US$80-120 billion annually—is lost after first use. 

 

UNLOCKING THE OPPORTUNITY

  • Effective resource decoupling policies could increase global economic activity by around 5% by 2050 compared to existing trends and increase employment. 
  • Coordinated action in the five countries that are the biggest sources of ocean plastic (China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) could reduce global plastic leakage by 45% in the next decade.
  • Better systems for waste management in particular could yield US$100 billion of value from plastics after a short first-use cycle. 
 

A selection of our materials projects

 

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