Sustainability Symposium Recap: David McGinty

The circular economy’s role in decarbonization.

According to David McGinty, the circular economy has an essential role to play in the transition to decarbonization. In a circular economy, manufacturers create products intended to be reused. Circularity aims to reduce pollution, resource use, and waste generation by keeping materials in use for as long as possible.


In his current role as Global Director at Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), McGinty strives to drive public-private action and collaboration on the circular economy by bringing together government, business and civil society organizations.  

“A circular economy is much more than recycling,” McGinty asserts. “It's about reuse, repair, remanufacturing and sharing models. It’s a systems solution framework to abate large-scale challenges like climate change, waste, pollution and biodiversity loss.” He asserts that we need to shift our current “take and waste” consumption model towards one that values human, environmental and community health and resiliency.

McGinty acknowledges that our course of consumption requires one and a half earth's worth of raw materials. “More than 100 billion tons of resources enter the economy every year,” McGinty points out, adding that “resource use has tripled since 1970 and is set to double again by 2050.” 

Alarmingly, only 8.6 percent of resources are cycled back into the economy. McGinty urges that this percentage needs to be much higher in order to create a low carbon economy since “the consumption and production of products is contributing to about 45 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Implementing circularity will curb carbon emissions, but it is also targeted to have “a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity by avoiding waste and making businesses more resource efficient.” McGinty looks to a future that addresses the comprehensive set of socio-economic and environmental imbalances through a restorative economic transition.

Watch as McGinty delves into the ideas and strategies behind circularity and how carbon pricing and the incorporation of externalities are essential if we are going to create an inclusive and sustainable economy.