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Circular Gap Report: the Swiss report on Circular Economy

by Carlotta Zarattini

Circular Economy Switzerland and Deloitte Switzerland, with the support of Impact Hub Switzerland, Kickstart Innovation and Circle Economy have published the first Circularity Gap Report for Switzerland. What is it all about? Let's find out in this interview with Tiziano Luccarelli, Sustainability and Circular Economy Lead at Kickstart Innovation.

What is the Circular Gap Report?

The Circular Gap Report (CGR) is a study that aims to define a nation's circularity coefficient, i.e., the percentage of virgin primary resources (biomass, metallic and non-metallic minerals, fossil fuels) that after their use do not become waste but are put back into the market. This coefficient serves as a starting point to then define some concrete actions with the goal of having an increasingly resource-conscious management.

Since when has the Circular Gap Report existed?

The first Circular Gap Report was made in 2018 by the Dutch foundation Circle Economy, which has since then produced an annual Global Circularity Gap Report that also aims to help policy makers by proposing concrete actions to be taken. To date, more than 10 nations publish a Circular Gap Report each year.

As of this year there is also Switzerland: what did you find out by collaborating on this report and what is Switzerland's circularity coefficient?

Switzerland's circularity coefficient is 6.9 percent: little compared to the Netherlands' 24.5 percent, but in line with the global average, which stands at 7.2 percent in 2023.

One of the interesting facts is that much of Switzerland's carbon dioxide emissions are generated by three sectors: manufacturing, construction and agribusiness: these three sectors account for 73 percent of material use and 63 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, Switzerland imports so many raw materials: this means that so many of the emissions related to the extraction of these materials take place abroad.

Another important figure that emerges is that Switzerland consumes 163 million tons of virgin materials per year: 19 tons per capita (in Europe the average is 17.8 tons per capita). Although a high consumption rate is common for a high-income nation like Switzerland, its material use (material footprint) is more than double the sustainable level, estimated at 8 tons per capita

Why should I read this Report?

The CGR is very interesting because it is divided into two parts: in the first part it shows visually how Switzerland uses and reuses natural resources, while in the second part it comes up with five action scenarios and for each of these scenarios actions are recommended to improve the use of raw materials, with the ultimate goal of decreasing carbon emissions.

So if I read this report, can I find concrete practices to implement tomorrow as a citizen, company, and institution?

Yes. The suggestions are very concrete and are intended for different types of audiences, because we all can and should contribute. The 5 scenarios touch different bands: there is one that is related to lifestyle; another one is related to the food system; the third one is related to the built environment; the fourth one is related to mobility and transportation; and the fifth one is related to the whole consumer goods production system.

How to make sure that these actions are actually implemented?

I think reports do little good if they do not trigger concrete actions. Actions can be individual, but they also often need more systemic coordination. That's why a Swiss project was born to create and define a roadmap to implement the suggestions that are in the CGR. The goal is to double the circularity coefficient by 2030 with the consequence of halving greenhouse gas emissions.

So a real collective collaborative effort between cantons?

Cantons, but not only. Businesses and the citizenry must also do their part. Several cantons have contributed to this report, but it is now that the commitment of individual cantons becomes important because we need to collaborate nationally to define this roadmap.

What about Ticino?

Ticino actively participated in the implementation of the CGR and we are organizing an event where we will share the results and start building a working group composed of entities and people who want to engage locally but also nationally on the implementation of these 5 scenarios. There is so much to be done, both at the company level and at the policy level. We need to help companies implement new practices, and at the same time help policy with new innovative laws.


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