Trends triggering a change in mindset

3.3.1 Changing Demand Trends

A growing global population, increased affluence in developed and developing regions, and a drastic consumer preference shift towards pre-packaged products have increased demand and pressure upon the limited quantities of available resources. These demand trends have translated to extreme fluctuations in resource price volatility as well as greater end of life waste load quantities, which have immense potential for recycling, reuse and recovery.

Source: World Bank; Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular economy team

3.3.2 Changing Supply Trends

Increasing demand for materials and products are placing pressure upon dwindling virgin and raw material resources, resulting in higher fluctuations of commodity prices and steeper production costs. Additionally, low recovery/recycling rates and recycling leakage of most materials have been unable to able to provide an efficient and cost effective alternate source of recovered resources, placing added pressure on dwindling finite resources. It is predicted that the existing stocks of a number of elements are likely to run out within the next 50 years.

Source: Prof. James Clarke (Green Chemistry)

Macro-economic risks (water supply crisis, food shortage crisis, energy volatility, agricultural volatility, rising emissions) have the potential to create additional volatility to the already resource pressured economics of material based business entities. These above-mentioned risks are included within the top 10 of 28 global risks determined by the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk report (2015) in terms of likelihood and impact.

3.3.3 Changing Values and Paradigms

Opportunities to integrate sustainability in the economic and corporate decision making are becoming more prevalent. Evolving consumer preferences (sharing instead of personal ownership), improved global logistical supply networks due to urbanization, and advances in technology leading to greater collaboration, integration (forward/reverse logistics) and knowledge sharing provide options to businesses to remain economically competitive. Additionally the provision of incentives and stimulus packages by economic enablers (governments, regulatory bodies) are encouraging businesses to adopt more sustainable economic growth models.

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