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Climate Change Benefits from The Circular Economy

The COP26 Summit (in Glasgow, Scotland)  brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Meanwhile, the circular economy is a key sustainability strategy adopted by industry leaders in their efforts to achieve progress.

While the circular economy is still in its infancy in terms of data and metrics, it's a growing phenomenon where technology sectors -- such as the Internet of Things (IoT) for asset tracking -- are set to grow rapidly within the next five years.

Global technology intelligence firm ABI Research forecasts that the world will achieve over 10.5 percent circularity by 2030, as sustainability efforts and incoming legislation start to take effect.

Circular Economy Tech Market Development

"The circular economy is an often-misunderstood concept that goes much further than waste management and can become a blueprint for cities. It is a movement away from our take-make-waste economy to one which designs out waste, keeps products and materials in use, and regenerates natural systems," said Lindsey Vest, research analyst at ABI Research.

According to the ABI assessment, circularity concepts such as remanufacturing, reuse, and the sharing economy will be critically enabled by smart cities technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital twins.

There are many different current and upcoming governmental actions that are expected to increase circularity. In particular, the EU has released the Circular Economy Action Plan as a part of the Green Deal, and China recently released its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for Circular Economy Development, which will accelerate adoption.

This is in addition to organizations such as the globally recognized Ellen MacArthur Foundation, dedicated to educating and connecting companies and governments around the world on the circular economy and C40 cities, whose members make up 25 percent of global GDP and are continuing to champion the circular economy.

Furthermore, many different technology companies are engaging in circular concepts such a Vodafone’s NB-IoT platform for monitoring water systems to prevent waste, and Cityzenith’s Digital Twins platform which helps companies design out waste in their projects.

With around 70 percent of people expected to be living in cities by the year 2050, ABI analysts believe that it will be essential the infrastructure is in place to support this population volume and density.

Outlook for Circular Economy Tech Applications Growth

Smart cities and their technologies will be essential in facilitating the circular economy. Many current smart city technologies already support a circular economy -- such as the sharing economy, smart lighting, and green infrastructure.

"However, these technologies need to adopt circular practices from cradle-to-grave to make full use of the opportunities brought by the circular economy," Vest concludes.

That said, I'm encouraged the UK government is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies, and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action during COP26 proceedings. Together for our Planet – this is the UK’s year of climate action.

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