The growth of consuming populations and their concentration into certain areas creates a greater reliance on available resources, and resource scarcity is the second aspect that the DRIVE framework predicts for expanding urban areas. This is likely to manifest itself as the following five problems: (a) Availability of sufficient resources – for example, the availability and quality of water services, due to changes in the groundwater level and pollution (b) Ensuring a reliable energy supply – cities will consume three-quarters of the total energy supply by 2030, and will need to meet this demand while keeping their carbon emissions low (b) Ensuring a reliable energy supply – cities will consume three-quarters of the total energy supply by 2030, and will need to meet this demand while keeping their carbon emissions low (d) There will be 1.7 billion vehicles worldwide by 2030, adding pressure to controlling congestion and pollution. (e) Uncontrollable amounts of waste resulting from the growth of industry and changing consumer behaviour. Energy tends to be considered the most important resource, and there are no signs to suggest that our supplies are running out any time soon. However, despite the still-huge reserves of fossil fuels, their exploitation is
costly and environmentally damaging. The solution is to use solar energy and other renewables, which are abundant enough to satisfy growing demand. Water presents more of a problem. Global demand will increase 40 per cent by 2050, and cities may experience difficulties maintaining their supply and sanitation requirements. Related to water, food is also under pressure. As more people in emerging markets can afford greater amounts of meat, this creates a larger demand for water in agriculture. Inevitably, increasing food prices will take up greater proportions of personal income, especially in developing countries. The growth of economies has also been surprisingly wasteful, relying on a ‘take-make-dispose’ approach. Currently, only 40 per cent of used materials are recycled, with the rest landfilled or incinerated, and Europe wastes around 95 per cent of its raw materials’ original value, generally using materials only once. Our mobility, food and building systems also have deeply ingrained wasting habits. This can be combatted by creating circular economy practices, wherein assets can be shared and product performance enhanced – lowering waste creation while allowing existing waste to be remanufactured and repurposed.
How would your business be affected if food and water demanded more of your customers’ disposable income?
Could your business gain from a circular economy?