Circular economy and health: opportunities and risks

"The extensive use of natural resources threatens to exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth. The concept of a circular economy offers an avenue to sustainable growth, good health and decent jobs, while saving the environment and its natural resources. Further, the change from a linear economy (take, make, dispose) to a circular economy (renew, remake, share) is expected to support significantly the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production. So far, however, the coverage of the health implications of a transition to a circular economy has been relatively limited. This report therefore aims to start to address this deficiency by framing the transition in a health context, to set the scene for further policy development, the assessment of research needs and stakeholder engagement in key health implications. It shows that the transition to a circular economy provides a major opportunity to yield substantial health benefits, such as direct benefits to health care systems and indirect benefits from reducing negative environmental impacts. There are also risks of adverse and unintended health effects, however, in processes involving hazardous materials, for example; circular economy strategies and particularly national, regional and local implementation plans need to identify and address these risks." (