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Last edited 02 Aug 2019
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.
[Image: Sustainable Brands]
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.
[Image: Ellen MacArthur Foundation; World Economic Forum; Boston Consulting Group]
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)
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- 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.
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