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Facts on circular economy in the EU & worldwide: what, where, who & how

8. Can a more circular economy be economically profitable?

    The investments that will be needed to move towards a circular economy (in the 3% of GDP range for the Club of Rome) means that at the enterprise level and if the cost of 'externalities' is not included (see above) in the real cost of resources and therefore of products and services, it remains more profitable to maintain a linear economy model, the current market signals being at the moment still largely in favor of maintaining this approach. The too low cost of energy and the availability of mineral resources valued solely on the basis of their extraction costs do not trigger a revelation of their real scarcity in the long term.

    Nevertheless, some estimates of the benefits of a more circular economy in the future context of scarce resources would indicate potential positive outcomes on trade balance, employment, greenhouse gas emission reductions, efficiency of enterprises and national resources and also better security of supply.

    In terms of employment in particular, an economy favoring the re-use and recycling of materials and extending the life of products through repair, maintenance, upgrading and refurbishing is in the short-term demanding more labor force than mining and manufacturing activities (often in highly automated and robotic installations) based on a post-consumer elimination philosophy, but this as long as other factors, such as an uncontrolled robotization trend does not challenge social models27.

    27 Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy Executive Office of the President

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