Circular Economy Case Studies
Creating a circular economy is essential in tackling the climate crisis with its enormous potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that energy efficiency and grid decarbonisation will be able to achieve 55% of the emissions reduction necessary to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees by 2050*. However, the remaining 45% reduction will have to come from tackling the overlooked emissions associated with carbon-intensive products and food. Circle Economy estimate that circular strategies could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 39%** and Green Alliance argue the circular economy could deliver 80% of the emissions reduction needed to meet the UK’s fifth carbon budget (2028 to 2033)***.
However, circular economy approaches are often thought about in terms of waste and resource use alone, without considering the possibilities of reducing emissions and creating wider benefits for society. These case studies share best practice from Business in the Community (BITC) members that have achieved carbon reduction by taking a circular economy approach.
The circular economy tends to be poorly embedded in businesses, with only 16% of Responsible Business Tracker® respondents embedding circular economy in their strategy, and only 23% considering circular economy in their procurement. This is despite the World Economic Forum reporting circular economy and material efficiency as being the lowest-cost method of reducing supply chain emissions. On average each tonne of carbon reduced through circular economy methods comes at a cost of less that €10****.
BITC is calling for all companies to embrace circular economy practices as a core aspect of their climate action plan.
- Prioritise circular economy principles within the organisational strategy, as set out in BITC’s Seven Steps for Climate Action to ensure a fair and just transition to a resilient, net-zero future.
- Follow the example of these organisations by measuring the carbon impact of circular economy projects.
- Share your story to inspire others to scale up circular economy approaches to deliver climate action.
Business in the Community’s work on the circular economy.
The circular economy offers an alternative way of using resources to a traditional, linear economy. Resources are designed for longer lifetimes, repair, re-use and reprocessing. It is evident that we need to redesign how resources are used to achieve a zero-carbon economy.
Next step: contact Business in the Community’s Advisory Team
Business in the Community’s (BITC) Environment Advisers identify risks, opportunities and impacts related to the circular economy. Through sharing leading practice on circular offices and circular products, we help companies ensure they are considering circularity in their climate action plans. You can access advice and training to help you engage with the circular economy.
TURN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING HUMANITY INTO ITS GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT
* Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2021) Completing the Picture – How the circular economy tackles climate change
** Circle Economy (2021) Circular economy strategies can cut global emissions by 39%, 26 January
*** edie (2021) Report: Circular economy could deliver 80% of UK’s next carbon budget, 15 July
**** World Economic Forum, Net Zero Challenge: The supply chain opportunity, Insights Report, January 2021