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Global Sustainability Trends 2023


As the vulnerable state of our planet is becoming a daily headline, and individuals and businesses are feeling the pressure to make changes, we’re curious to find out what trends 2023 might bring that can enhance sustainability efforts.


Combining environmental insights with real-world improvements, we’ve created a key list of trends that we can see increase over the next year.


1. Increased Use of Renewable Energy Sources


Although renewable energy has become more accessible in recent years, in 2023 we would see an increase in the trend. With the use of renewable systems and new technologies, creating long term sustainable energy consumption.


By switching to a heat pump or installing solar panels, homeowners not only significantly reduce their environmental impact, but can drastically lower their energy bills as well. With the cost of energy continuing to cause uncertainty across the globe, it’s no surprise that many more people are considering making the switch.


2. More Recycling


Recycling was seen as one of the key trends in sustainability that we will see in 2023. Although it’s not a new concept, and many homes and businesses around the world already do some form of recycling, it’s thought that with the global increase in environmental concern, more climate action and education towards recycling will become part of sustainability strategies.


A big contributor will be manufacturers and producers, who will be increasing efforts to reduce and recycle packaging and encourage consumers to do the same. This will be seen across all sectors, from food to retail production.


With an increased demand from consumers for their products and brands to be more environmentally conscious, it’s no surprise that big companies are making moves to improve their sustainability. With a heightened awareness for recycling practices; in particular with plastics and packaging, forecasts predict positive improvements.


3. Improved Transport and Infrastructure


This industry trend is one which has been steadily evolving for most countries; improvements to sustainable transport options. Amongst the changes include increased bicycle use, low carbon public transport and of course, the roll out of electric cars and other vehicles

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Whilst some countries may be adopting energy efficient electric vehicles more quickly than others, there is no doubt that these, once seemingly futuristic modes of transport, are now becoming commonplace on the roads and highways of the world.


When looking at the factors which impact and arise from fossil-fuelled transport, it’s no surprise that this is an area of concern. In 2020, passenger vehicles accounted for 41% of all the worlds CO2 transport emissions. That’s more than any other mode of transport.


The positive news is that action is already being taken to reduce the harmful impact of road vehicles. Aside from adopting electric cars, buses and vans, there is also an effort across green countries to encourage more use of public transport or bikes. Across Europe many cities have increased efforts to reduce car use by making public transport free, this includes Malta, Luxembourg, Spain and many more.


4. Reduction of Food Waste


Food waste has become a growing concern across the globe over the last decade. According to recent research by UNEP, it’s reported that around one-third of all food produced for human consumption around the world, each year, goes to waste. That’s around 1.3 billion tonnes which go straight to landfill. The impact of that quantity of waste is multi-layered – from its effect on soil and water quality, to producing hazardous odours and toxic chemicals, not to mention it’s increasing the need for more landfill sites.


It is reported that around 72% of waste that reaches landfills could be composted instead. As priorities change, however, it is thought that more pressure will be put on big businesses and households to compost. With food waste being such a large global issue, and composting being a relatively easy, sustainable solution, this trend is clearly one that is being pushed for all the right reasons.


5. Reuse and Purchasing Second-hand Products


Increase in second-hand purchasing and reuse of products and materials has been steadily growing in popularity. Not only because it drastically reduces the environmental impact of new product manufacture, supply chains and delivery, but it also cuts down spending costs for millions of consumers. A concern which is of huge importance in the current climate.


It is predicted that the second-hand market for clothing will be worth over $282 million by 2032. This spike in desire to buy second-hand fashion is being driven by a consumer base who want to reduce pollution, climate change and unethical labour practices. There is also a greater need for short term reduced spending amongst younger generations who are facing more financial uncertainty, as it is reported that 42% of those shopping second-hand are within the 18-37 age range.


With an ever-increasing, environmentally conscious, consumer base, we can expect the reuse and repurposing of products to become a more popular option. From 2023 we may see more second-hand, vintage and repurposing brands becoming central to the way we shop.


6. More Sustainable Materials


We know that sustainable fashion is high on our trend predictions for 2023, but what also featured in our research was the increased use of sustainable materials. This includes swapping packaging materials, clothing fibres and even construction materials for more sustainable natural resource options. This can either mean materials which are easily biodegradable or replaceable, which have minimal impact on the environment.


One climate trend which seems to be appearing more frequently in materials, is the use of bamboo. It seems that this versatile product is becoming the top choice within many sectors and a sustainable future product. Whether it’s used as a fibre or flooring, its benefits are numerous. In place of wood, bamboo releases more oxygen and absorbs four times as much carbon dioxide. It’s strong, water resistant and cheaper to produce.


From next year, we may well see more uses for these materials and the introduction of new ones.


7. Increased Brand Responsibility & Transparency


We predicted that brands and big businesses would be under increasing pressure to focus on their environmental responsibilities, and be more transparent for consumers.


As consumers begin to demand more from corporations, to see their efforts and understand how they are tackling their own climate impact, brand loyalties may start to be tested. If big brands can’t show they are taking action to tackle climate change, and committing to sustainable industry practices, consumers may look elsewhere for their products.


In order for brands to do their part, and stay competitive, they need to adapt to the new consumer who is environmentally conscious. This might include things such as switching to recycled materials and recyclable products, investing in wider initiatives that support climate change education or carbon offsetting measures. It could also include only working with other sustainable businesses or launching a sustainability strategy.


8. Even Greater, Climate Positive Technology


In a world where new technology seems to appear daily, it’s no surprise that predictions include even bigger and better technology to target climate change and support sustainability in the years ahead. More frequent use of existing and new systems seems to be creating opportunities to reduce our environmental impact, both globally and on an individual level.


We are already seeing more use of smart thermostats and electric vehicles, but, whereas in previous years these have been seen as a device to help people reduce their carbon footprint, the current financial climate, and economic uncertainty, now suggests these are more likely a tool for saving money.


Whilst these smart gadgets help to give consumers more control over how they use energy, these won’t be the only thing helping to reduce energy waste in homes. In 2023 it’s predicted that more of our standard household appliances will be energy efficient, from ‘smart’ ovens to fridges, and dishwashers that can be more flexibly controlled and will have the lowest energy consumption possible.


9. More People Working from Home


Since the start of the pandemic, employees working from home has rapidly become a more normal occurrence for most businesses. The benefits of this working style are so numerous that even after the pandemic, businesses around the world are still adopting the practice.


Many of our contributors claim that from 2023, this low carbon trend will continue and whether you’re a fan of home working or not, it’s undeniable that staying home has environmental benefits.


As more people work from home, there is less road travel by car and public transport, which has led to a huge reduction in carbon emissions. Alongside this, as technology allows more people to communicate and store information remotely, consuming energy in office buildings has also reduced.


One of the positive benefits this practice has is that it also encourages a better work-life balance, something which has given many companies the opportunity to both improve their environmental contribution, but also improve their employer appeal.


10. More Demand for Plant-based and ‘Alternative’ Foods


recent study, by the University of Oxford, has shown that by not eating meat or dairy products, a person can reduce their carbon footprint by up to 73%. That’s an incredible reduction and it’s clear to see why more people are turning towards a vegan diet. This is one trend in sustainability that most of our contributors noted would be increasing throughout 2023.


Reasons for adopting a plant-based diet go beyond just carbon reduction and health benefits, there is also a dramatic impact on the planet as a whole to consider. With farming practices, meat production can deplete natural resources, contaminate land and endanger other wildlife.

If you’re not a fan of traditional plant-based foods though, there is good news. You can still contribute to these efforts by choosing ‘alternative’ foods.


Production of ‘alternative’ foods is taking off and is something we can all expect to see more of. ‘Fake’ versions of meat and cheese are becoming increasingly common on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. The demand for more sustainable food options is creating wider opportunities for food manufacturers and consumers.


With many consumers reassessing how they eat, and opting for alternative products, it’s safe to say that in the coming years we should expect to see more of these options becoming common.


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