A circular economy to save the world economy after COVID-19?

It is obvious that one of the biggest concerns of this pandemic is none other than the economy and its future, in particular how we cope with the difficulties caused by it, which will be decisive for many sectors – especially for SMEs, small traders and the self-employed, who are already running out of steam. COVID-19 has called into question all facets of human activity and, seven months later, the economic effects are particularly felt. A group of academics led by the WMG at the University of Warwick, analyzed how the world could take advantage of the positive and negative effects of COVID-19 to build a new, more resilient, low-carbon economy.

According to the group consisting primarily of economists, a more sustainable model based on the circular economy (CE) could help the world recover financially from COVID-19, while also making it easier to achieve “zero carbon goals”. The global economy is feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and many industries are under threat.

The group of researchers – from the UK, Malaysia, Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates and Japan – led by the University of Warwick’s WMG concluded that adopting circular economy strategies would be the key best way for the global economy to recover, while enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Since March 2020, global supply chains have been severely disrupted and strained, and the financial market has been destabilized, leading to cross-border economic catastrophe. Border closures have shattered the fundamental pillars of modern global economies, and the economic shock of these measures continues to weigh on the entire globe.

The adoption of a circular economy framework in all sectors

In the document entitled ” A critical analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and ecosystems and opportunities for circular economy strategies », Published in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling, the group of researchers critically analyzed the negative and positive impacts of the pandemic. To make the world resilient after COVID-19, adopting a circular economy framework is recommended for all sectors.

The pandemic has had many effects on everyone’s lives, including confinement, as well as the fear of being infected and possibly hospitalized, or of losing a loved one. It has put a strain on businesses, and many have lost their jobs, and / or their sanity. Economically, the effects are being felt everywhere due to colossal financial losses, both at the macro and micro level of the economy, including global supply chains and international trade, tourism, aviation, and many other sectors, hampering the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

However, the pandemic has brought about some natural changes in behavior and attitude, which have had positive effects on human health and the planet, including:

  • Improving air quality. In the UK in particular, it is believed that reducing air pollutants has saved more lives than the number of people who have died from COVID-19 in China, for example.
  • Reducing ambient noise and traffic jams has resulted in an increase in the number of people exercising outside to enjoy the atmosphere.
  • Less tourism induced by the pandemic, which has led to less exploitation of the beaches, resulting in greater cleanliness.
  • A decrease in global primary energy consumption. For example, the consumption of coal fell by 8%, that of oil by 60% and that of electricity by 20% compared to the first quarter of 2019, resulting in a record (low) level of emissions. of CO2 in the world.
  • This triggered the need for diversification and circularity in supply chains, and demonstrated the power of public policies to address pressing socio-economic crises.
    Researchers examined the impacts of the pandemic and its interaction with the circular economy, to assess how it could be adopted to rebuild the global economy.

The pandemic has exposed the environmental folly of the ‘extract, produce, use and dump material and energy flows’ business model, but short-term resolutions to deal with the pandemic will not be sustainable in the long term, because they do not reflect improvements in the economic structures of the global economy Says Dr Taofeeq Ibn-Mohammed of the WMG at the University of Warwick.

Methodology and action plan

As shown in this methodological schematic diagram, the study began with a brief review of the impacts of historical plagues in order to shed more light on the link between the past and the pandemic we are going through, which provided an overview of its positive and negative impacts. The role of CE as a vehicle for constructive change in light of COVID-19 was then explored, followed by synthesis, analysis and reflections on the information gathered, leading to recommendations sector-specific CE strategy in a post-COVID-19 world. Credit: WMG, University of Warwick

We therefore propose the adoption of a circular economy for all industries, with different strategies for each of them. For example, adopting transformative capabilities of digital technologies for supply chain resilience by leveraging: big data analytics to streamline supplier selection processes; cloud computing to facilitate and manage relationships with suppliers; and the Internet of Things to improve logistics and shipping processes “, Explain the researchers.

The post-COVID-19 investments needed to accelerate the transition to more resilient, low-carbon and circular economies should also be built into economic stimulus packages promised by governments, as the loopholes in the dominant linear economic model are now recognized and that the gaps to be filled are known “.

Resources, Conservation and Recycling

circular economy could save world economy after covid-19

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