This year, Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 28, meaning that on the 28th of July 2022, humanity had consumed all the natural resources that the planet can produce in one year.
The overshoot day marks the date on which the world’s consumption of natural resources for the current year exceeds the planet’s capacity to regenerate them. The date has been calculated and published on a yearly basis since 2006 by the international knowledge hub Global Footprint Network. The calculation is done by dividing the planet’s biocapacity by humanity’s ecological footprint. According to this year’s report, we have used up our natural resources on July 28, which is the earliest day measured yet. Combined, we consume roughly 74% more resources than our ecosystems can manage, meaning that we need no less the 1,75 planets to sustain our current lifestyle.
The calculations behind Earth Overshoot Day rely on UN statistics and incorporate the most recent data and updated accounting methodology including additional sources such as the Global Carbon Project. The overshoot day has been calculated since 1961. To ensure consistency and comparability, the annual dates are recalculated each year to allow for improved historical data and new findings to be incorporated. Ultimately, the exact calendar dates for the Earth Overshoot Day are far less important than the overall trend of the curve which, although slowing down in recent years, is still headed in the wrong direction – closer to January.
How can we push the date?
In 2022, Denmark crossed the earth overshoot day line as early as March 28th, ranking us the 8th country in the world with the highest consumption per capita. How can we push this date and what can businesses do to contribute?
Circular economy has in the recent years become widely accepted as one of the most promising approaches to tackle our heavy emissions and resource consumption. The Ellen Mcarthur Foundation defines circular economy as “An economic cycle that aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles”. Circular economy builds on three main pillars; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. With circular practices we can scale down our overuse of natural resources. Today’s businesses still mainly operate with linear practices, following the take-make-waste principle. However, by following circular economy strategies, businesses can keep their resources in orbit, utilise them to a higher degree and minimise waste. The Ellen McAurthor Foundation furthermore argues that a transition to circular practices can result in economic growth and new jobs in our society. Thus, while global warming is a threat – it is also an opportunity for the private sector. With its financial strength and its proclivity for innovation, the private sector can play a leading role in the reduction of our climate footprint.
Ecodesign for a circular economy
At IPU we aim to support businesses in their transition into more circular practices. Product design plays a crucial role in its circular economy. The initial design of a product affects its durability as well as the ability to repair, recycle, and re-use it. Ecodesign considers environmental issues in the product development process and aims to minimise environmental impacts throughout a product’s lifecycle. For the last 25 years, IPU has created environmental value through ecodesign strategies during R&D in a broad range of industries, such as MedTech, machinery, construction, transportation, plastics, waste handling, and consumer products. With the recent developments in EU policies, we believe that ecodesign strategies will – and should – play a significant role as businesses comply with new regulations and it will furthermore help them reach cost efficiency through circular practices.