The Circularity Gap Report 2023

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The global economy is now only 7.2% circular; and it’s getting worse year on year—driven by rising material extraction and use. The global economy
increasingly relies on materials from virgin sources. In the six years of the Circularity Gap Report, the global economy extracted and used more than in the entire 20th century1—improving people’s living standards, but at the same time breaking through the safe environmental limits of the planet. The first edition of our Report in 2018 was the first ever to measure global circularity, finding it was 9.1%. It dropped to 8.6% in 2020 and has now fallen to 7.2%. Comparing these figures can be difficult,2 however, we can assert that circularity goes down as the general rate of global material extraction rises. This is coupled with the fact that more and more materials are going into stocks such as roads, homes and durable goods, thus leaving fewer materials to cycle back into the economy. A circular economy focused on cycling alone cannot keep up with virgin material use rising to unprecedented heights—we cannot recycle our way out of this one.


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