Futuribles Journal n° 403

Économie, emploi - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Quasi-Circular Growth: A Pragmatic Approach to the Sustainable Management of Non-Renewable Material Resources

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Still within the context of this special issue that builds upon the study undertaken by Futuribles International in 2013-14 entitled “Producing and Consuming in the Era of Ecological Transition”, François Grosse outlines what he sees as the most practical approach for shifting our societies towards “quasi-circular growth”. Conscious that the option of zero or negative growth is a utopian solution, he proposes a sustainable management of non-renewable material resources aimed at optimizing the consumption cycle of such resources within a growth economy.

After briefly reminding us of the consumerist context we live in, Grosse describes the main characteristics of the stocks and flows of non-renewable raw materials in the economy –their rate of growth, their residence time in the economy, the effect of stocks and flows of waste materials and the potential role played by recycling. He goes on to demonstrate the conditions under which we could implement a quasi-circular growth model, ensuring the sustainable management of non-renewable raw materials. This would involve low levels of growth in the production/consumption of each material, with at least 80% of the quantities of each material consumed entering the waste cycle, and more than 60%, if not indeed 80% of this waste effectively being recycled. This is a systemic vision that would enable us to retain a form of economic growth, while taking account of the limits of our ecosystem and the finite nature of resources.

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