Finnish Environment Institute | Suomen ympäristökeskus | Finlands miljöcentral

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Transition to circular economy

All economic activity should be based on circular economy. The circular economy is an economic model in which more goods are not constantly produced. Instead of ownership, consumption is based on the use of services: sharing, renting, and recycling. In it, society holds on to value that is bound to materials as long as possible. In the circular economy, economic growth is not dependent on the consumption of natural resources.

Without a circular economy, it is impossible to bring climate change under control. Re-use of plastics, aluminium, steel, and concrete that are already in use would allow us to reduce about 40 percent of current annual emissions from industry. This, for its part, would be a significant step toward keeping the increase in global temperatures to two degrees.

Consumption of natural resources must be significantly reduced

“One planet Lifestyle” requires an 80 percent reduction of natural resources by Finns by the year 2050.

The greatest amount of natural resource use by households goes into housing, transport, and food. Consequently the greatest reductions can be achieved through consumption changes in these areas.

On the practical level, reducing material footprints to a sustainable level would mean, for example, preventing food waste and reducing meat consumption. Residential space and residential energy consumption should also be reduced.

A sustainable level in transport can be achieved through reducing the need to move around, through means of city planning, resource efficiency in public transport, and by shifting from private car ownership to different types of shared use of vehicles.

Public policy measures needed

Choices made by households are strongly connected to the structures and infrastructure of society. Consequently the reduction of the material footprint of the Finns will require fast and decisive measures of public policy. Responsibility cannot be left in the hands of consumers alone.

Finnish companies can be actively involved in establishing global rules compatible with sustainable development and in having an influence through their example. Each Finnish company should invest into making the business's responsibility report as transparent as possible.

Businesses as well as civil society are key players, together with the public sector. Companies expect consistent policy from decision-makers.
Published 2018-09-13 at 11:48, updated 2018-09-13 at 11:47

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