22 January 2020
Just 20 years into the 21st Century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We’ve come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organisation.
With concern about the human impact on the environment already at an all-time high, the current linear economic model, dependent on the constant creation, usage and disposal of products, is no longer sustainable. In its place, we will see a circular economy – a model in which the value of any given product is extracted fully before the product is recycled and reused.
The effect will be to dramatically reduce environmental impact, waste and energy use and improve the overall efficiency of products. This can be adopted across different industries – from manufacturing to food.
This will become non-negotiable in a world where resources are finite and the climate emergency is pressing. In a linear model, the impact of waste caused by business processes and product disposal, including greenhouse gas emissions and waste plastics, grows as the economy grows. The circular economy offers different solutions.
We will therefore move to a ‘restorative’ process of production. Recycled and reused products need not be in the original form; there are plenty of innovative ways to use resources in new ways, producing new goods without depleting natural resources further.
People will feel increasingly empowered in this economic model, as they will be able to see how the products they recycle are put back into the system, leading to an increase in recycling rates.
In a circular economy, we will produce less waste. This will not only reduce or remove the problem of where to place this waste – all the more pressing as developing countries decide to no longer accept foreign waste – but also mitigate the risk of environmental damage.
Innovative new products will be created from what would once have been regarded as waste across all industries – from food production or recycling plastics. And with increased business opportunities from recycling, circular economies can drive value, with an estimated 9.2 jobs created for every 10,000 tonnes of recycled waste.
Internal KPMG analysis estimates that a circular future in food, transport and the built environment industries together represent a potential economic benefit of over $210 billion in GDP, and an additional 17,000 full time jobs for Australia by 2047-48.
Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2040? Read our other predictions
- Parliament of Victoria, The Circular Economy – An Explainer, October 2018
- Climate Emergency Declaration, Climate emergency declarations in 1,260 jurisdictions and local governments cover 798 million citizens, December 2019
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