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as phosphorous, are dispersed in soils and water bodies, ultimately washing away and being effectively lost to any further use. That kind of material dissipation raises alarms over the eventual depletion of the essential resource (Ciacci et al. 2015; Nassar, Graedel and Harper 2015).


In contrast, when a metal is recycled, the environmental risks are typically much lower. For instance, fabricating a product from recycled aluminium uses one-twentieth of the energy than production from primary aluminium does. For the circular economy, this means that recycling should lead to reduced environmental pressures and risks, mainly due to lower energy and raw material needs (Wernick et al. 1996; Wernick and Ausubel 1997; Balke et al. 2017). The focus of a circular economy concentrates on sound product or infrastructure design, as well as on the systems in place to monitor resource use, waste and environmental repercussions (Ghisellini, Cialani and Ulgiati 2016). Other strategies may include variations of upcycling or recycling: refuse, rethink, reduce, reuse, repair, refurbish, remanufacture and repurpose. Here, environmental and sustainability education is crucial.


An important issue arising from resource use is that the environmental and social costs are typically greatest during extraction when land is cleared, or populations displaced, while the greatest benefits accrue at the other end of the supply chain. To fully appreciate the cost-benefit ratio and the actual value of a product, it is important to consider the environmental consequences of global trade in resources, including the repercussions for local communities in areas of resource extraction. Interest is growing in tracing the origins and added values of supplied resources through sustainable supply chain management. This traceability supports action on issues such as conflict minerals, chemical and pharmaceutical waste, food contamination and illegal trade in endangered species (Mundy and Sant 2015; Paunescu, Stark and Grass 2016; Tijani et al. 2016; Sauer and Seuring 2017). The availability and distribution of this type of information defines a connection between supplier and consumer and encourages more sustainable resource use choices. Recent research indicates, however, that humanity has overshot the safe operating space for certain planetary systems, specifically climate change, the rate of biodiversity loss and the biogeochemical flow of the nitrogen cycle (Rockström et al. 2009; Steffen et al. 2015). Some updated analyses would add phosphorus to that overshoot list (Carpenter and Bennett 2011; Cordell and Neset 2014).


The pressures upon our planet have therefore brought global society to a decisive crossroads: the continuation of a conventional process model to ‘extract-make-use-discard’ through a linear economy or the transformation into a circular economy with society focused on the entire life cycle of resource use and management. Some thinkers consider that it may already be too late (Urry 2010; Scheffer 2016). Others suggest the transition from a linear economy with wasteful resource management to a circular economy with sustainable resource management can be accomplished but requires new concepts of de-growth and a post-capitalistic economic vision (Jackson and Senker 2011; Kosoy et al. 2012; Krausmann et al. 2017).


The transition to a circular economy will provide many opportunities for technology innovation and deployment that also present many new business prospects. At heart, a circular economy will require sound policies for resource accounting


and waste management that create the demand for recycled resources and deliver a resource efficient and sustainable economy (Ghisellini, Cialani and Ulgiati 2016; Balke et al. 2017). Resource use is also intimately connected to energy technologies and policies, such as the materials required for various renewable energy technologies, highlighting the need to consider the links among material resources, energy and environmental outcomes (Akenji et al. 2016; McLellan 2017).


All 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals involve competition for natural resources, with many requiring efficient and sustainable use of resources and minimizing associated impacts – especially the metals considered critical for renewable energy and, consequently, for progress on climate change solutions (Arrobas et al. 2017; International Resource Panel 2017).


4.4.2 Energy


By 2015, global energy consumption reached around 13.5 billion tons of oil equivalent (International Energy Agency [IEA] 2018). That is expected to increase to around 19 billion tons by 2040 (IEA 2016). Much of this increase is attributed to consumption expected in developing economies that currently depend largely on fossil-based energy sources. This makes accelerated efficiency a crucial strategy to mitigate energy-related impacts. At the same time, nearly 1.2 billion people remain without access to electricity and 2.7 billion still resort to traditional fuels for cooking and heat, facing exposure to concentrated indoor air pollution (IEA 2016). Improved access to modern energy services is not only closely connected to all Sustainable Development Goals and indicators, including food security, health and quality education, but shifting to clean and efficient forms of energy also empowers women and other marginalised groups responsible for the collection and burning of primitive solid fuels (World Energy Council 2016).


Energy demand also leads to competition for water, land and even atmospheric limits; to inequitable distribution of these and other sets of natural capital, such as mineral resources and access to sensitive ecosystems; and to processes involving different approaches that often cause disputes and conflicts at several levels and magnitudes (Rodriguez et al. 2013; Jägerskog et al. 2014; McLellan 2017).


The competition between biofuels and food re-emphasizes the need to understand the nexus of energy, food, water and land use (see Chapter 8). Popp et al. (2014) discuss the impact of biofuel production on food supply, environmental health and land requirements, and highlight the need for integrated policies to manage the various components of the energy, food, water and land-use nexus.


The rise in water demand, while usable water reserves decline, accentuates the need to examine water-energy linkages against the backdrop of growing energy demand. Jägerskog et al. (2014) discuss the energy and environmental trade-offs related to hydropower. Rodriguez et al. (2013) also provide an overview of water requirements for generating power, particularly in the case of thermal power plants. Copeland and Carter (2017) address the energy requirement for delivering water to end users and for the disposal of wastewater in the United States of America.


Cross-cutting Issues 93


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