Global consumption of raw materials at this point is not sustainable for the Earth. Germany consumes an above-average of resources compared to other countries. If they were to consume as much as Germany, it would take three Earths to satisfy global demand. We therefore welcome the German government’s initiative of a National Circular Economy Strategy to reduce raw materials demand.
While supporting a German and European transformation to circular economy, we point to challenges this creates for the Global South. On the one hand, a reduction of raw materials need could reduce pressure on local communities in mining regions. On the other, updated product standards could outstrip financial resources of companies in the Global South. Moreover, secondary materials could be harder to come by in some countries if sorting and recycling processes increasingly shift to Europe.
We therefore call on the German government, together with the Association of Development Policy and Humanitarian Aid of German Non-Governmental Organisations (VENRO), to consider adverse effects of its National Circular Economy Strategy on countries in the Global South. In our statement, we give examples of foreseeable issues, and suggest how to address them in the new strategy.