Government promotes circular economy on ‘Earth Overshoot Day’

Finland is using its EU Presidency to promote circular economy goals, but it will be tough to get all 28 countries to agree.

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File picture of planet earth / Credit: iStock

Mark you calendars. Monday 29th July is the date when the planet’s population has used more renewable resources than the earth can produce this year.

Although in theory it should take an entire year, we’ve collectively done it in just seven months.

Finland is much worse – using up its share of the planet’s renewable resources on 5th April.

The government thinks the solutions to overconsumption lie in the circular economy, especially since humanity consumes about 80 billion tonnes of raw materials every year, but only 9% gets recycled.

“We must take quick action to reduce our consumption of natural resources. The earth cannot support our overconsumption, which is a major cause of biodiversity loss and the progression of climate change” says Krista Mikkonen (Green), Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

“Circular economy solutions present an opportunity for us to reuse the natural resources we have already used, produce less waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry” Mikkonen says.

Every year the WWF calculates ‘Earth Overshoot Day’, when the world uses up more resources than it can regenerate in that same year.

Back in 1987 when that date was first calculated, the Earth went into ecological debt on 23rd October. Fast forward to 2018, and the date was already 1st August.

According to the WWF, if all the people in the world were consuming renewable materials the way Finns do, 3.8 Earths would be needed to sustain that level of resource usage every year.

The main culprits in Finland are energy production, transport, and food production.

Finland’s EU Presidency and the circular economy 

Finland is using its current Presidency of the European Council to promote the circular economy, and wants to get agreement from the 27 other EU countries on the next best steps to tackle overconsumption.

Any strategies would need to cover sectors like construction, texttiles, mobility and food as well as the entire chain of production and consumption but in the EU that also means legislation to break down red tape that could be holding back current efforts.

In addition, there would have to be major changes in the behaviour of the public sector, businesses and individuals to cut down on raw material usage and recycle more.