As previous weeks of Circular Economy Month have discussed, a circular economy has three major benefits: environmental, social, and economic. The final week of the campaign looks at the social and economic benefits of circularity.
What social and economic benefits come from adopting a circular economy?
Our society and economy are highly linked to one another. A circular economy presents many social and economic opportunities and benefits.
- Creation of new and meaningful jobs
- Provision of equitable opportunities (skills development, training) for all members of society
- Healthier public spaces through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduction of waste in the environment, reduction of distances of goods travelled, etc. (For more environmental benefits, see Week 2 content.)
- The building / repatriation a manufacturing base in Canada (which shortens the supply chain and reduces its complexity)
- The growth of local economies
- Increased financial savings
Facts, Stats, and Resources
- In just six circular industrial sectors in Canada, a 2019 report commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada found that 371,000 - 379,000 jobs had been created while 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e annual emissions were avoided. Even with limited data, these sectors saved 470,000 tonnes of material from the landfill!
- The value retention processing market (VRP; i.e. reuse, repair, refurbishment) of six circular industrial sectors generated approximately CAD $44 billion in 2019.
- In 2017, Canada's industrial sector accounted for 70 million tonnes of CO2 emitted, while the country's entire economy generated 720 million tonnes of CO2. The estimated 1.6 million tonnes of CO2e reduced in the six sectors studied in 2019 demonstrated, even at the study's conservative lower estimate, circular economy jobs and innovations were significant. Now, imagine if all industrial sectors across the country adopted circular approaches!
- A just transition to a circular economy should prioritize transparency, sustainability, fairness, and prosperity.
"With so many millions of jobs at stake, the transition towards the circular economy needs to be a just transition - based on social justice and decent work for all. To ensure that social and environmental progress go hand in hand, we must start valuing properly the people that make the circular economy work." -- Guy Ryder, International Labour Organization, WCEF 2021 Summary Report
Social priorities to support the circular economy
- Support, respect, and empower Indigenous leadership.
- Provide leadership opportunities, safe jobs, training, and capital for all communities, including youth, rural and remote communities, marginalized peoples, and the Global South.
- Implement policies and strategies to support circular innovation, such as circular procurement, taxation, investment, and trade.
- Integrate, in all business, political, and societal decisions, solutions based in circularity, low carbon, and nature.
- Work together in symbiotic relationships to accelerate lessons learned and share resources.
- Socio-economic and environmental study of the Canadian remanufacturing sector and other value-retention processes in the context of a circular economy: Environment and Climate Change Canada via Oakdene Hollins and Dillon, 2019.
- World Circular Economy Forum 2021 Summary Report
- Get Involved in the Circular Economy: Government of Canada