Materials management is estimated to represent 67% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Our societies’ use of material resources is growing, in turn increasing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the extraction, processing, assembly, destruction and disposal of products and their materials.
One solution to cut down material-related emissions is to maintain existing materials in use before they are disposed of, thus reducing the volume of materials flowing in and out of the economy.
Due to growing concerns over the climate crisis, European Union policymakers have placed the circular economy transition higher on the agenda than ever before. In December 2019, the European Commission published the Green Deal, a Communication paper setting out the EU’s approach towards achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and making the transition to the circular economy by decoupling economic growth from resource use.
In a study conducted for the European Environment Agency, Ramboll and its partners Fraunhofer ISI and the Ecologic Institute analyse the relationship between circular economy and climate change mitigation and develops a methodology to quantify the decarbonisation benefits of circular economy actions.
The approach was tested for the building sector and found that, from the combination of 8 selected circular economy actions, up to 60% of the CO2 emissions related to building materials could be avoided in the EU compared to a baseline scenario, or an absolute reduction of 130 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050.