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Circular Economy in 2040

INRS partnered up to explore the possible futures of a circular economy for 2040 and to identify the occupational safety and health challenges.

The goal of this foresight exercise is not to attempt to predict the future of this economic model, but to explore the mechanisms to identify the potential impact of its development on working conditions.

With regard to occupational safety and health, the challenge is key. A circular economy offers above all, the chance for better integration of prevention ahead of the creation of new production modes, new services and new products. But it can also result in negative effects if concern for the protection of workers’ health is not taken into account, swept under environmental interests. The potential risks are high when it comes to revising production processes or using other raw materials (particularly from recycling), rolling out new technology, developing repair and reuse activities, transforming waste for it to be reused, etc.

The product of this exercise is a series of questions (and not recommendations) on topics that call for economic players to be vigilant so as to conciliate environmental preservation and occupational risk prevention in the new production and consumption modes introduced by the circular economy.

This document is a summary drawn up for the presentation of the foresight exercise on 17 April 2019 to the French Economic Social and Environmental Council. The full report compiling the working group’s entire production (methodology, variables sheet, scenarios, occupational safety and health challenges) is available in French only on the INRS website: www.inrs.fr/prospective.

Download the executive summary

Last update on 28/10/2019