In the 20th century, we dug up, chopped down, drilled for or harvested 34 times more construction materials, 27 times more ore and minerals, 12 times more fossil fuels and 3.6 times more biomass than in all years before. Today, two-thirds of us live in cities, draining nature of materials to build homes, schools, hospitals, roads, transport systems and factories. Urbanization, together with a growing middle-class, has increased demand for consumer goods.
Hence, re-thinking how we manufacture industrial products and deal with them at the end of their useful life could provide breakthrough environmental, social and economic benefits, according to a new report by the International Resource Panel and UN Environment, released at the World Circular Economy Forum, in October 2018.
The report highlights that if products were re-manufactured, comprehensively refurbished, repaired and directly re-used, the amount of new material needed could be significantly reduced – by 80-98%for re-manufacturing, 82-99 %for comprehensive refurbishing, and 94-99 per cent for repair.
The implementation of value-retention processes (VRP) can be steered by governments through public procurement strategies with a leading-by-example approach. For instance, through policies, which provide a level playing-field for VRP product options in order to establish new markets for early-stage product innovations or low rates of adoption for innovative processes.
As one example, the project Circular PP aims to address the societal challenge of resource efficiency through procurement. It demonstrates how public authorities can exploit synergies between public and private stakeholders in their procurement, with the goal of creating innovative circular processes and products.
If you like to know more about how to integrate circularity into public procurement, consult our guide.
The full report mentioned above is available here.