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Reproduced from Wood Mackenzie; Chart: Axios Visuals

The global rate of materials extraction is "unsustainable" and there's a need to untether economic growth from consumption, per a new public report from the consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Why it matters: It argues major industries should embark on a "materials transition" — a phrase akin to the now-common term "energy transition" used to describe movement toward climate-friendly sources.

  • Those industries include construction and infrastructure, which is a major driver of the use of non-metallic minerals.

What to watch: The report uses the plastics and packaging sector as a case study for how a transition toward a more sustainable system can occur.

  • It envisions a future with tougher rules and big investments, compared to current trends, in chemical and mechanical recycling.

By the numbers: Wood Mackenzie analyzed the future of major packaging plastics: polyethylene, polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate.

  • In its "current path" scenario, recycling rises from 17% to 38% in 2040. On a more sustainable path, that would rise to 67%.
  • "By 2040, this results in an additional 53 million tonnes of packaging plastic prevented from going into landfill, energy recovery or unmanaged waste streams...Cumulatively, from 2020 to 2040, this rises to 382 million tonnes."

Go deeper

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.