Shift - Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation

These countries are home to around a quarter of the global population, yet consume over one-third (34%) of raw materials. Shift countries’ material footprint per capita is 4.6 times that of Build countries (largely due to the overconsumption of consumer goods imported from Grow counties) and 1.6 times that of Grow countries.

These are high-income countries in the Global North, as well as in the Gulf, Australia, and Oceania. Examples include:

  • Member States of the EU
  • the US
  • Japan
  • the UK
  • Canada
  • Argentina, …

While much of their infrastructure is already built, they still contribute heavily to the overshoot of planetary boundaries: they contribute 42% of climate change, 27% of nitrogen, 18% of phosphorus, 16% of freshwater use and 38% of land use change.

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:

🏢 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.

👕📱 Consumer goods

Manufactured goods, such as vehicles, textiles, appliances and equipment and their associated production processes are big employers but: production processes often rely on fossil fuels and currently drive one-third of the overshoot on the climate change planetary boundary due to its GHG production, material- and energy-intensive industrial activities are linked to deforestation and drive 15% on both the land use and freshwater planetary boundaries, manufacturing goods results in substantial amounts of hazardous industrial waste and leaks chemicals into the environment. Here, circular solutions must tackle the full value chain, but material demand must also shrink: this will necessitate a societal shift to favouring sufficiency over excess and reducing consumption to sustainable levels. Our four key solutions for manufactured goods are: Mainstream industrial symbiosis and efficiency : Achieve process improvements, scrap diversion and reduction in yield losses through greater industrial symbiosis and efficiency. Foster tighter collaboration within and between industries to deliver powerful material and emissions savings. Extend the lifetime of machinery, equipment, and goods: Maximise the lifetime of goods that serve our daily needs to bring a number of environmental benefits. Buy what's needed: Reduce the number of purchases of common electronic goods, appliances, and other equipment to sufficiency levels. Eschew fast fashion in favour of sustainable textiles: Drastically reduce new clothing purchases. All used clothing should go on to be repaired, reused or, if needed, recycled appropriately. Prioritise natural and local textile manufacturing, as well as higher-quality and more durable garments.

Relevant case studies and reports

Sort by:

Most relevant


Filter by:

Approved by curator

Click to learn more about this filter

This section allows you to filter for curated case studies. Curated case studies have been reviewed and approved by knowledgeable individuals in the circular economy to ensure content quality.

Loading filter ...
Loading filter ...
Loading filter ...
Loading filter ...