The latest edition of Signals, an annual publication from the European Environment Agency (EEA), considers the environmental impacts of our current consumption and production system. It demonstrates how we regularly extract limited resources faster than the planet can produce them, turn them into products using environmentally harmful processes and then discard those products after a short period of use.
Our current consumption patterns have numerous and significant environmental impacts. Generally, Europeans are consuming more – eating twice as much meat compared to the amount consumed 50 years ago, which increases the demand for land and other resources. They are also becoming more wasteful – approximately one third of food is wasted in the European Union.
The publication outlines numerous ideas that could ‘green’ the economy, including improved consumer choices, increased recycling and enhancements to town planning. Collectively, these solutions could assist the transition to a circular economy, an economy in which waste becomes a re-usable resource.