The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a report entitled “The benefits to biodiversity of a strong circular economy“. In this report, it shows that biodiversity, although vital for healthy ecosystems and therefore the basis of our well-being and economy, is under severe threat and explores how the circular economy can reduce the impacts of production and consumption on biodiversity.

At the root of the problem are our current unsustainable production and consumption systems. Transforming these systems is clearly an essential part of reducing pressure on biodiversity and ecosystems. Recent research indicates that the food, construction, energy and textile sectors account for approximately 90% of the pressure on biodiversity worldwide.

“How the circular economy can reduce biodiversity loss attributed to our production and consumption systems”, Source : European Topic Centre on Circular Economy and Resource Use and EEA.

To achieve this transformation, the circular economy is a key approach, but more focus on biodiversity is needed. This report identifies the following three areas where the circular economy can benefit biodiversity:

  • Reducing demand for primary resources can be achieved by increasing the efficiency of our resource and material use, through circular economy actions, such as extending product lifetimes and recycling materials. Reducing demand for primary resources, in turn, reduces pressure on biodiversity.
  • Pollution prevention focuses on preventing materials from ending up as waste in the first place. It also emphasises the need to reduce the use of hazardous substances, which hinder reuse and recycling and damage natural environments (and human health).
  • Biodiversity-friendly sourcing focuses on the resources we use, which should be sourced in a way that avoids damaging natural systems and promotes regenerative practices where possible. This point is clearly where most attention is needed in the current discussion on the circular economy.

Main picture: Bill Kasman