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Last fall I reflected on two reports I found exciting and provocative. They both look to the future and the potential effects of resource consumption on business and consumers. In fact, on the world.

In October 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) previewed a report at the World Circular Economy Forum in Japan. It projects global consumption of raw materials to nearly double in the next 40 years, with the largest increases being in minerals and metals. Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060: Economic drivers and environmental consequences also predicts recycling will become more competitive compared to the extraction of primary materials, stating that “extraction and use of primary (raw) materials is much more polluting than secondary (recycled) materials.”

The report is likely to be required reading for leaders of government, industry and advocacy organisations world-wide who are seeking to bring circular economies into being.

Industry also cares

This anticipated strain on Earth’s natural resources and the impacts of resource scarcity on businesses are also among the themes of Tetra Pak’s 2016 report: Embracing Value From Natural Capital. The report follows earlier research in 2015 that promoted the development of a resource consumption model using natural resources that can be regrown or refurbished over time—from responsibly managed sources.

Tetra Pak pursued this dialogue through “Learning Labs”, events and activities with consumers and stakeholders across the consumer-packaged goods supply chain, to explore their understanding of the issue. This included identifying perceived challenges and barriers to adoption, and awareness of potential rewards from using renewable materials to mitigate natural resource scarcity, as well as contributing to long-term growth strategies.

The Learning Labs revealed that four key factors impact increased adoption of renewable materials among industry: communication, complexity, cost and consumer demand. The report offers a range of ideas and approaches suggested by industry leaders and consumers to address these factors and the potential impact of failing to act. You can learn more from the article in FOOD Navigator published in Sept. 2016.

As the OECD and industry look to the future it is encouraging to see this “big picture” thinking taking place. My hope is that we also consider how we can contribute to ensuring that picture is bright.