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Earth Overshoot Day 2023: Circular businesses are reversing overshoot

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — July 31st, 2023 — This year’s Earth Overshoot Day is on August 2nd, according to calculations by Global Footprint Network. This means from January 1 until this day, humanity has demanded as much from nature as the planet’s ecosystems can renew in the entire year.

Earth Overshoot Day reminds us that the persistence of overshoot, now for over half a century, has led to a massive decline in biodiversity, excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and heightened competition for food and energy. These symptoms are becoming more prominent with unusual heat waves, forest fires, droughts, and floods. 2023 has been another year of extremes.

Given a predictable future of more climate change and resource constraints, resource security is turning into an essential parameter of lasting prosperity. This is true for countries, cities, or companies. There is no advantage in waiting for international agreements. Rather, it is in the interest of every city, company, or country to step up and protect its own ability to operate in the future.

Indeed, a new generation of circular-economy-focused companies have already recognized that: They operate while also reducing overshoot. Expanding such companies, means global overshoot goes down.

“Enabling circular solutions gives companies the best chance to succeed in the predictable future” says Dr. David Lin, Chief Science Officer of Global Footprint Network. “There are many examples that demonstrate how. They symbolize the Power of Possibility”.

Examples of circular businesses include:

  • Construction: Over 6 billion tons of waste from torn-down buildings are produced every year worldwide. Eberhard, a Swiss construction company, recovers mixed construction waste in the first plant in Europe and turn it into new, high-quality circular secondary raw material One application is a low-carbon, circular concrete that is largely composed of recycled materials (zirkulit®). If such concrete were used worldwide instead of conventional one, Earth Overshoot Day would move by 2.4 days.
  • Waste recycling: by closing various material or product loops, and providing sorting and recycling of large waste streams, including plastics, Interzero reduces society’s dependence on virgin resources. Based on Interzero’s data Global Footprint Network’s researchers calculated that for every annual Euro value add the company generates with their zero waste solutions, global overshoot shrinks by over 32 global square meters. This contrasts starkly with the 2.1 global square meters of overshoot added for every annual US dollar generated by the global economy. That means, per Euro, Interzero gives 15 times more back to our planet than the global economy takes. Without Interzero, Earth Overshoot Day would be 7 minutes and 16 seconds earlier. Its impact is therefore measurable even on a global scale.

Companies who can produce valuable goods and services while also reducing global overshoot are naturally better positioned for the predictable future. The likelihood that such businesses will be needed, and that they therefore remain valuable, is higher than for those businesses who ignore those global trends.

The government of Slovenia and Global Footprint Network also announced that they will start a “One-Hour’ initiative in Slovenia with the ambition to find and support companies that together can move Earth Overshoot Day by one hour. The goal of this initiative is to motivate the business community by showcasing the necessity of aligning business strategy with the reality of persistent ecological overshoot.

Relevant Power of Possibility examples:

Media contacts

Global Footprint Network

Astrid Gloor, Eberhard Bau AG | +41 79 256 75 78

Mathias Kreutzmann, Interzero | +49 151 72 47 6504