A new report released today from London-based policy institute Chatham House has called for more significant action from global businesses and government bodies in the bid to establish a circular economy, deeming the $1.3tr invested ‘far below’ the amount needed.
Globally, recycling and waste repurposing schemes have received increased interest and funding, yet the report concludes that we are still a long way off from what is needed to have a thriving circular economy.
The study authors say their review is the first of its kind in assessing global investment into this greener future – examining initiatives such as recycling, reusing, and sustainable product design.
The report poses the COVID-19 recovery as a potential opportunity to reinject spending into the circular economy, and rebuild it from the bottom up. Current spending has been predominantly focused on supporting ‘the existing linear economic system’, the study reads, rather than on innovative, transformative initiatives.
“For the circular economy to make more substantial contributions in the SDG context,” it states, “there must be a significant increase in financing for higher-value circular economy opportunities across value chains and in support of the scaling of circular business models.”
“Support for low- and middle-income countries in the transition from a linear to a circular economic model is crucial, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 recovery” it adds.
As of February this year, governments from around the world have channelled a total of $14.9tr into public stimulus spending in response to the pandemic. This amount has not, however, been equally divided between sectors, with the report finding a total of $4.6tr has gone into industries such as agriculture, transport, and waste, while only 12% of the total ($1.8tr) has gone into green initiatives.
Greater investment into, and understanding of, how to enact a ‘just transition’ to a circular economy is highlighted by the report – shown as having the potential to positively impact not only our environment, but also societal imbalances and economic resilience.