Build - Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation

Build countries consume 13% of the global material footprint, while they account for almost 50% of the population.

Examples include countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia such as:

  • Bangladesh
  • Ethiopia
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • The Philippines
  • Some small island states, …

Minimal contribution to the overshoot of planetary boundaries: these countries contribute 20% of land use change, 30% of freshwater use, 23% of phosphorus emissions to soil, and 11% of nitrogen emissions.

To find out what country profile your country belongs to, explore this interactive story and search for your country on the final map.

Consists of:

🍏 Food systems

The food system nourishes populations and employs 50% of the global workforce, but: it currently drives a quarter of the overshoot on the climate change planetary boundary due to its greenhouse gas (GHG) production, animal farming alone uses over one-quarter of all land, equivalent to the size of the Americas, nearly a quarter of freshwater resources are lost due to rampant food waste, and it is the single largest driver of biodiversity loss. A circular food system must address the whole value chain, from production to consumption to waste management. The four key solutions for the food system are: Put healthier, satiating foods first: Prioritise satiating and healthy foods with a lower environmental impact—ideally shifting calories from meat, fish, and dairy towards cereals, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Go local, seasonal, and organic: Prioritise the production and consumption of local, seasonal, and organic produce (sometimes in combination with GMO to reduce pests and disease loss on crops), which can lead to a significantly reduced need for chemical inputs, fuels, and processing services that contribute to environmental impacts. Mainstream regenerative agriculture: Scale up agricultural practices that regenerate ecosystems, recirculate nutrients and sequester carbon by design. End avoidable food waste: Minimise food loss and valorise waste following the food waste hierarchy along the supply chain and at the consumer level through better management of transport and storage, more refrigeration and smart planning, and technology at the consumer and food service levels.

🏢 Built environment

The built environment, including housing, commercial buildings, and the necessary infrastructure for mobility, is essential for our livelihoods, but: the extraction of minerals used to produce construction materials is responsible for a quarter of global land use change, approximately 40% of global GHG emissions can be attributed to buildings’ construction, use and demolition, and construction and demolition processes drive nearly one-third of all material consumption. Making the built environment more circular must prioritise a heavy reduction in material use—while also closing the loop on materials and bringing secondary and renewable material choices to the fore. Our four key solutions for the built environment are: Make the most of what already exists: Make the most of existing materials by reusing, repurposing, upgrading and renovating following circular approaches. Where new builds are needed, use secondary materials and be as efficient as possible with urban planning solutions that follow circular design principles so that buildings can be reused, repurposed, and easily disassembled in the future. Be as energy efficient as possible: From the design phase, utilise circular strategies to create material- and energy efficient buildings. Couple these designs with a rollout of clean energy solutions, and prioritise energy-efficient appliances and retrofitting. Utilise secondary materials: Maximise the high-value reuse of buildings and components where possible. Ideally, enable the utilisation of construction and demolition outputs and ensure that as much of it as possible is recycled to avoid the need for virgin materials, such as sand and gravel. Prioritise circular materials and approaches: Transition to using renewable wood, timber or cross-laminated timber instead of steel and concrete, or move to other locally available materials. Utilise mainstream modular construction and prioritise lightweight frames and structures to reduce cement and steel use, as well as green roofs where possible.

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