65 billion tonnes is an impressive amount in any context. It probably even exceeds the amount of caviar that bankers get through in a year (Sorry, bankers everywhere, but this seems to be Be Mean month. I'll get over it).
In fact, it's the amount of raw materials that entered the world economic system in 2010, and this looks set to grow to 82 billion tonnes by 2020. This growth is clearly related to the rise in new middle-class consumers expected to enter the global market by 2030 [some 3 billion]. Read that again: 3 000 000 000 people.
Clearly we are going to need more recycling bins.
At least, that would be conventional thinking, but not that of a new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey published yesterday.
This extract sets the scene for the argument:
More and more businesses feel squeezed between rising and less predictable prices in resource markets on the one hand and stagnating demand in many consumer markets on the other. The turn of the millennium marked the point when real prices of natural resources began to climb upwards, essentially erasing a century’s worth of real price declines. At the same time, price volatility levels for metals, food, and non-food agricultural output in the first decade of the 21st century were higher than in any single decade in the 20th century. If no action is taken, high prices and volatility will likely be here to stay if growth is robust, populations grow and urbanise, and resource extraction costs continue to rise. ... price signals may not be strong or extensive enough to turn the situation around fast enough to meet this growth requirement.
Against this backdrop, business leaders are in search of a ‘better hedge’ and an industrial model that decouples revenues from material input: the ‘circular economy’.
Read on ...