Launch of the first Circularity Gap Report Switzerland and the implementation of an ambitious national roadmap on the circular economy
Press Release – Zurich/Berne, March 20, 2023
Utilisation inefficiente des ressources et empreinte carbone élevée: l’économie suisse n’est circulaire qu’à 6,9%.
The first Circularity Gap Report for Switzerland highlights the substantial consumption of raw materials and CO2 emissions to meet the needs and desires of its inhabitants. According to the report, barely 7% of raw materials and processed materials used in the Swiss economy come from secondary sources such as recycling. Therefore, the circularity gap is slightly over 93%. The materials integrated into the Swiss economy mostly come from non-renewable sources. Often extracted abroad, contributing to significant environmental impacts, from emissions to waste production. The Circularity Gap Report Switzerland is a project launched by Circular Economy Switzerland & Deloitte Switzerland. Supported by Impact Hub Switzerland and Kickstart Innovation, it was authored by the impact organization Circle Economy. The report underscores the urgency to take action and marks the launch of a multi-stakeholder national roadmap aimed at establishing a truly circular economy in Switzerland. Over 200 leading actors, including public and private companies, academic institutions, public agencies, policymakers, and NGOs, have joined to participate in today’s launch event and develop a roadmap for Switzerland.
Circular economy is defined as an ecosystem designed to minimize waste, reuse products and materials at their highest added value, and preserve natural ecosystems. Common circular strategies include reuse, refurbishment, repair, or recycling, to name a few. Shortcomings in this area are significant on a global scale: the extraction and processing of raw materials account for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and over 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress. Today’s published study indicates that Switzerland consumes approximately 163 million tons of new materials annually, which amounts to 19 tonnes per capita. This is far above the estimated sustainable level of 8 tonnes per capita.
L’industrie manufacturière, la construction et l’agroalimentaire représentent la majeure partie des empreintes matérielles et carbone de la Suisse
Manufacturing, construction, and agri-food industries represent the majority of Switzerland’s material and carbon footprints (including other greenhouse gases). The Swiss manufacturing industry has a significant environmental impact, contributing to just over 40% of the country’s material footprint and 36% of the carbon footprint. The report highlights the innovation potential within this sector: the application of circular technologies could have a substantial positive impact, reducing environmental consequences. The construction sector in Switzerland ranks second, consuming significant quantities of materials, energy, and water, representing 18% of the total material footprint and 14% of the total carbon footprint. Older and less energy-efficient buildings make up a substantial part of the real estate portfolio, explaining these figures. Finally, the Swiss agri-food industry generates 14% of the total material footprint and 13% of the total carbon footprint. Processed foods, meat, and crops for both animal and human consumption are the main contributors. Despite these three sectors consuming vast amounts of raw materials and generating high CO2 emissions, Switzerland is well-positioned to improve the situation.
The report identifies five areas in which Switzerland must take action :
- Advance circular production.
- Rethink transportation and mobility.
- Build a circular built environment.
- Promote a circular food system.
- Adopt a circular lifestyle
Optimizations in these five areas could nearly double Switzerland’s circularity (from 6.9% to 12.1%). Resource consumption could be reduced by one-third (-33%), and the carbon footprint could be almost halved (-43%).
For these five areas, the comprehensive analysis conducted within the framework of the Circularity Gap Report Switzerland identifies key levers to achieve a more comprehensive circular economy. “It is clear that advancing the circular economy relies not only on technological solutions,” says Carlo Giardinetti, Consulting Sustainability Lead at Deloitte Switzerland. “Coordinated and enhanced collaboration among all involved stakeholders, a cross-sectoral and comprehensive approach, not to mention consideration of decentralized governance structures, are also essential. Stakeholders from the private and public sectors, academic institutions, and civil society organizations must come together to drive meaningful change.”
“Circular economy represents both an opportunity and a challenge for Switzerland as a whole, and particularly for the manufacturing industry,” explains Christine Roth, head of environmental policy at the Swiss machinery and electrical equipment industry association Swissmem, who was part of the scientific committee for the report. “If our current consumption rate continues, demand for goods will increase year by year, with the world consuming more and more. This requires more energy-efficient and resource-efficient machinery, innovative technologies, and new business models. This presents an opportunity for the Swiss manufacturing industry to contribute to the development of circular solutions worldwide through its exports.”
According to the report, a more circular economy would bring many other benefits to Switzerland: improved average population health, increased well-being through more sustainable food, more resilient social communities, nature protection, and biodiversity enhancement, to name a few.
All figures mentioned in the report indicate significant potential for improvement in the Swiss economy. The growth potential of circularity at 12.1% should not be underestimated, as achieving 100% circularity is technically almost impossible. Due to a gradual loss of quality, raw materials and processed materials cannot be infinitely recycled in the economy. Furthermore, Switzerland, with limited raw materials, is deeply integrated into a global economy with challenging production and trade conditions to control. Nevertheless, the benefits of more active development in the five areas mentioned are evident.
“By supporting Switzerland’s transition to a circular economy, we can contribute to creating a more resilient and sustainable country,” says Felix Stähli, a member of the executive committee of Circular Economy Switzerland, the coordination and networking platform for the Swiss circular economy movement. “If Switzerland follows the basic principles of the circular economy – using less, using items for longer periods, and reusing, all in the cleanest way possible – it will be able to make a significant turn in environmental matters and make real progress toward achieving various objectives in this field.”
About this rapport :
The Circularity Gap Report Switzerland is a project launched by Circular Economy Switzerland and the audit and consulting firm Deloitte. It was carried out with the support of Impact Hub Switzerland and Kickstart Innovation. The in-depth analytical study on the current state of circularity in Switzerland was conducted by the Amsterdam-based Circle Economy Foundation, the author of the Global Circularity Gap Report.
More than 60 individuals from the public and private sectors and civil society in Switzerland participated in the development of this report, which spanned nearly a year.
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