The Which sustainable future for plastic? conference, to be held in Brussels on 21 March, aims to stimulate the debate on the way plastic is produced, used and discarded.
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Innovation and investments
Join five inspiring speakers to hear the latest thinking on circular economy at TedXParcduCinquantenaire, to be hosted hosted by the European Commission on the 5th of March in Brussels.
On 7 March the European Commission will host a workshop to inform stakeholders about the product environmental footprint, its development and possible contribution to a Single Market for Green Products.
The LIFE EPS SURE project aims to offer a technically, environmentally and economically viable solution that allows EPS fish boxes to be collected, washed and converted into new PS food contact packaging, thus closing the loop.
AquaponieBxl is introducing aquaponics across Brussels by building urban farms where vegetables grow on water using fish waste as fertiliser.
Enablers and Barriers to a Circular Economy
The report provides a simple, yet rich overview of the barriers and enablers of circular economy business models as identifed by stakeholders, drawing upon a range of interviews, workshops and events, and a survey conducted with representatives of the European business sector.
Within businesses, stakeholders have identified high-level commitment accompanied by long-term perspectives, the personal drive and attitudes of staff, as well as the promise of enhanced competitiveness as key in supporting the transition towards circularity. Yet, from an internal company perspective, a number of factors were highlighted as getting in the way of the transition. Difficulties in financing new business models, taxation systems, resistance to change and the perceived lack of consumer demand are key examples of obstacles that hamper the circular transformation.
Importantly, stakeholders have provided interesting insights into possible solutions and recommendations able to overcome the challenges posed by circular economy barriers: tax incentives, the development of wealth-measurement systems other than GDP, material passports and quality standards, to name a few. Future solutions should also focus on ensuring safe areas for innovation out of tendering calls, green public procurement and increased financial support.
This event organised by the Aldersgate Group will debate the progress made over the last five years on the circular economy and plastics agenda, how to ensure that momentum continues, and what should be key priorities for European policy makers after the European elections and change of Commission.
ECO.NOMIA | The Portuguese Circular Economy Information Portal
The ECO.NOMIA portal, created in 2016, is one of the components of the Portuguese Action Plan for Circular Economy (2017), adopting the role of a knowledge-sharing space. It is a one-stop-shop for all things circular, in Portuguese, aimed at citizens, companies and investors. Not only does it explain the principles, advantages and opportunities of the circular economy, it also provides examples and information on financing, learning opportunities and national and international events.
Join CICERONE at the World Resources Forum in Antwerp on February 26th for their first workshop on the future of circular economy programming.
Create a financeable circular business in 10 steps
When deciding on which circular strategies to implement, the financeability of a business is also affected. For example, product-service combinations are seen as a promising, future earning model, but they currently encounter considerable funding challenges such as securing stable cash flows, reducing risks and matching investments with payback periods. Additionally, evolving business strategies, including changing value propositions and chain collaborations, should be topics on the agenda. Enabling the transition towards these new business models is key to successfully implementing circular business strategies and future proofing our economy.
In order to better understand how these challenges could be addressed, Circle Economy and the Sustainable Finance Lab worked with circular business managers and financiers to identify ways to fund circular business strategies, a key element they desperately need to achieve. Building on this research the authors outline the following 10 Steps to Financeability in this report:
- Decide on a logical starting point
- Generate profit through multiple use cycles
- Align incentives throughout the supply chain
- Be transparent about the value proposition
- Redefine the role of retail
- Gradually transition to product-service systems by combining revenue models
- Secure stable cash flows through a robust contract
- Mitigate debtor risk
- Match asset value, payback period and contract duration
- Measure environmental impact on financial performance.
Smart Circular Economy is an international workshop focusing on the role of ICT as an enabler for the Circular Economy. This workshop will bring together scientists and researchers as well as relevant stakeholders from industry and local communities to share and exchange their experiences, discuss challenges, and report state-of-the-art and in-progress research at the intersection of ICT and the Circular Economy. Accepted and presented papers will appear at IEEE Xplore and will be listed by all major indexes.
Registration is now open for the 2019 Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference: Success Stories and New Challenges, to be held March 6 and 7 in Brussels. Apply until January 31st to attend this conference, grow your network of circular partners and participate in taking stock of the Circular Economy Action Plan’s achievements while setting the ground for new horizons in the circular economy.
Circularity Gap Report 2019
The Circularity Gap Report 2019 finds that the global economy is only 9% circular - just 9% of the 92.8 billion tonnes of minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass that enter the economy are re-used annually. Climate change and material use are closely linked. Circle Economy calculates that 62% of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding those from land use and forestry) are released during the extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods to serve society’s needs; only 38% are emitted in the delivery and use of products and services.
It highlights the vast scope to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by applying circular principles - re-use, re-manufacturing and re-cycling - to key sectors such as the built environment. Yet it notes that most governments barely consider circular economy measures in policies aimed at meeting the UN target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
This report thus highlights three key circular strategies which could be adapted throughout the economy to help limit global warming and gives examples:
- Optimising the utility of products by maximising their use and extending their lifetime. Ridesharing and carsharing already make it less important to own a car. Autonomous driving will accelerate this trend, potentially increasing the usage of each vehicle by a factor of eight. At the same time electric powertrains, intelligent maintenance programmes and software integration can enhance the lifetime of cars.
- Enhanced recycling, using waste as a resource. By 2050 there will be an estimated 78 million tonnes of decommissioned solar panels. Modular design would enable products to be easily disassembled, components to be re-used and valuable materials to be recovered to extend their economic value and reduce waste.
- Circular design, reducing material consumption and using lower-carbon alternatives. Bamboo, wood and other natural materials have the potential to reduce dependence on carbon-intensive materials such as cement and metals in construction. Instead of emitting carbon, these materials store it and will last for decades. They can be burnt to generate energy at the end of their life.
The report also provides recommendations for governments: while The Netherlands has set itself a target of becoming 50% circular by 2030 and 100% by 2050, most governments have yet to wake up to the potential of the circular economy. The report recommends joining up climate change and circular economy strategies to achieve maximum impact, through the use of tax and spending plans to drive change. They should:
- Abolish financial incentives which encourage overuse of natural resources, such as subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, extraction and consumption;
- Raise taxes on emissions, excessive resource extraction and waste production, for example by implementing a gradually increasing carbon tax;
- Lower taxes on labour, knowledge and innovation and invest in these areas. Lower labour taxes will encourage labour-intensive parts of a circular economy such as take-back schemes and recycling.
On 22 January 2019, Circle Economy launched the second annual Circularity Gap Report in Davos during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.
Genesis Biopartner has built a plant for the co-generation of thermal energy (heat) and mechanical energy (electricity) from biogas in Romania.
The educational project Ecotic Caravan co-financed by LIFE+, ran between 2014 and 2016 and aimed to raise awareness on environmental protection and sustainable development by focusing on efficient management of WEEE waste. The caravan travelled across Romania and was parked in the main squares so that the general public could easily interact. Workshops with school children were also organized.
The caravan program reached over 20,000 persons and the school program more than 50,000 pupils, contributing to the collection of over 10 tons of WEEE.
Italian Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform
The Italian Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ICESP) is the mirror initiative launched at national level by the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) - the only Italian member of the ECESP's Coordination Group.
The ICESP is a "network of networks" bringing together circular economy initiatives, experiences, critical issues and perspectives from Italy which can be represented at European level. Its objective is to promote the Italian way for circular economy at national and international level, through the involvement of Italian stakeholders.
The ICESP acts through six working groups: 1) Research and eco-innovation, 2) Policy and governance, 3) Measuring the circular economy, 4) Sustainable and circular design, production, distribution and consumption, 5) Cities and territory, 6) Good practices.