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Actions towards a circular economy are of utmost importance to safeguard nature, reduce pollution and achieve climate neutrality in Europe by 2050. A briefing, published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA), emphasises that, in addition to ongoing efforts to prevent waste, specific circular economy practices in sourcing of raw materials hold significant potential to also protect and enhance biodiversity.
The EEA briefing ‘The benefits to biodiversity of a strong circular economy’ explores how circular economy can reduce and, in some cases, reverse the impacts of production and consumption on biodiversity.
Several recent assessments have raised alarm about biodiversity loss and decline of ecosystems in Europe and globally due to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. The new EEA briefing points out that circular economy practices can help safeguard biodiversity by reducing primary resource-use, preventing pollution and, notably, by sourcing materials through biodiversity-friendly practices.
According to the EEA briefing, biodiversity-friendly sourcing of, for example, food, construction materials and textiles, merits more focus as it can amplify the potential of circular economy to reduce or even reverse biodiversity loss. Such practices include using seaweed for animal feed or crop fertiliser, recirculating water from green roofs and using agroforestry production methods for textiles. This type of biodiversity-friendly sourcing needs to be added to the traditional hierarchy of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ in circular economy actions, the EEA briefing states.
Policymakers, businesses and citizens can all play are role in making circular economy actions more beneficial for nature. Policymakers need to design policies that ensure a strong integration between circular economy actions and biodiversity aspects over the entire life cycle of goods and services. Businesses need to develop and upscale innovations, paying attention to product life-spans, pollution and sourcing of materials. Consumers can support these actions by reducing overall consumption and demanding more biodiversity-friendly choices. Dietary shifts alone can help free up land, reduce water use and cut greenhouse gas emissions, the EEA briefing notes.
Key insights of the briefing will be presented on 13 June, at 10:00-11:30 CET, at the EU Circular Talk “The circular economy in the context of a limited supply of biomass – ways forward to address biodiversity loss and climate change”.