The traditional linear economy increasingly threatens natural systems, leading to the unprecedented degradation of global biodiversity. This endangers the functioning of economies and threatens the welfare of human societies. The circular economy (CE) offers an opportunity to decouple virgin resource consumption from economic growth, avoiding resource overexploitation and waste generation, consequently preventing biodiversity degradation. In this context, industrial symbiosis (IS) creates an approach for facilitating the repurposing of waste materials and by-products as input materials, promoting the cross-sectoral exchange of resources and further enhancing sustainable development. Here, we compile existing CE indicators and examine whether they are related to biodiversity. We then synthesise knowledge from previous academic studies to develop cases focusing on key human needs (food, water, energy, infrastructure). Using these cases, we demonstrate a potential relationship between biodiversity and the CE from an IS perspective, highlighting how circular practices impact the direct drivers of biodiversity loss. We conclude that quantifying the consequences on biodiversity of adapting CE approaches remains limited yet offers an opportunity to protect biodiversity. Finally, we argue that further research on the biodiversity impact of circular practices across all pillars of the CE and all actors guiding a shift in economic paradigms is required to promote the systemic consideration of resources and materials and direct an economic transition. This can potentially help towards halting biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution—also known as the triple planetary crisis.
|Journal||Circular Economy and Sustainability|
|Publication status||Published - 18 Mar 2023|