Week 4 – Social and Economic Benefits of Circular Economy

Photo of three piles of coins gradually getting bigger. Each coin pile has a sprouting plant on top.

The final week of Circular Economy Month looks at the social and economic benefits of circularity.

Transitioning to a circular economy allows societies to move towards a more sustainable and equitable future. By promoting the continuous use of resources through circular business models, the circular economy offers several social and economic opportunities and benefits:

Job creation and skills development

A circular economy requires new innovative business models, technologies, and infrastructure. This new model could lead to the creation of an estimated seven to eight million new jobs globally, in areas such as recycling, reuse, repair/maintenance, and refurbishment. These jobs create more meaningful work overall through both brand-new opportunities or jobs that have been reallocated. Circular innovations and work require new skills, creating new training and education opportunities.

Increased affordability.

The circular economy can make life more affordable for consumers and help combat inflation. For example:

  • Designing products that are durable, repairable, and reusable result in higher-quality products that have a longer lifespan. By extending the life of products through repair and refurbishment, consumers can reduce the frequency of purchases.
  • Through reuse/refill or food rescue programs, groceries and supplies can become more affordable and accessible.
  • By practicing smart consumption and minimalism, consumers can save costs on unnecessary products.
  • Rental and sharing programs can reduce costs associated with owning products by providing access to products needed infrequently.

Prosperous and healthy communities

By minimizing waste in the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and manufacturing, the circular economy helps mitigate environmental threats to human health and improves quality of life. It also helps build local economies by reducing dependence on imported resources. Promoting local production and consumption shortens the supply chain and encourages businesses to source materials locally.

Community engagement and empowerment.

Circular economy promotes concepts like sharing, repairing, and collaborating. Community-based initiatives, such as repair cafes, swap events, food donation programs, refilleries, and reuse programs can strengthen social ties, build trust, and empower individuals to engage in a circular lifestyle.

Facts and Stats

  • In just six circular industrial sectors in Canada, a 2019 report found that 371,000 – 379,000 jobs had been created while 1.6 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions were avoided annually.
  • In Canada, the value retention processing market (VRP; i.e. reuse, repair, refurbishment) of six circular industrial sectors generated approximately $56 billion in 2019. 
  • It is estimated that a global circular economy scenario will create a net total of seven or eight million new jobs by 2030.
  • Moving toward a more circular economy for plastics in Canada could generate billions of dollars in revenue and create approximately 42,000 jobs by 2030.

Related Content

Week 4 Resources