- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 24 Mar 2021
Circular economy - transforming the worlds number one consumer of raw materials
Yet very little gets reused or recycled. The World Economic Forum’s new report Shaping the Future of Construction found that only a fraction of construction waste gets recycled. Instead, billions of tonnes of materials that could be used elsewhere are being dumped.
With urban areas growing in population by 200,000 people per day, construction is going to continue to have a significant impact on the way the world’s resources are used. But how do we change the way the industry deals with waste?
 A missed opportunity
Such waste involves a significant loss of valuable minerals, metals and organic materials. With such quantities involved, even small improvements in the way the construction industry works will have significant impacts on sustainability.
 The circular economy
The traditional linear economy uses a 'take, make, dispose' economic model which relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. It is not a sustainable model and many believe it is a now reaching its limits.
Applying this principle to the construction industry could bring extremely cost-effective benefits. The World Economic Forum’s report points out that by harnessing the capacity of the building sector, many countries could cut emission rates cost effectively and achieve energy savings of more than 30%, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
The report shows that by adopting circular economy principles and sharing knowledge within the industry, companies can bring about transformative change. With the help of government – both as regulator and infrastructure customer – this change can be supported and encouraged.
Small changes in such a vast industry have extraordinary potential and many of these changes are already within reach. All that is missing is the will to bring about the necessary transformation.
Written by Keith Breene, Formative Content, World Economic Forum
--Future of Construction 09:44, 19 Jun 2017 (BST)
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 5 things leaders can do to create a truly circular economy.
- A social, circular economy.
- Circular economy.
- Circular economy in the built environment.
- Cradle to cradle product registry system.
- End of life potential.
- Impact of the sharing economy on construction craft labour and equipment markets.
- Managing packaging waste streams.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Wood and the Circular Economy.
Featured articles and news
The revival of the public sphere in Toronto.
The story behind the copycat architecture craze.
Insight into construction materials supply and demand issues.
IHBC has announced winners of the 2020 honours.
Cement and concrete industry introduces measures to go beyond net zero.
UKGBC has introduced a resource to help with sustainability challenges.
Is it time to embrace EVs at last?
Plaster, glue and dye produce a highly decorative effect.
BSRIA predicts winners and losers for 2021 and beyond.
Firms must commit to net zero to secure major public work.
The resurgence of the British country house. Book review.
International Energy Agency report presents narrow path.
Experts discuss how the country's ageing housing stock can meet net zero goals.
This form of drainage may be a practical plumbing option.