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Policy enablers to accelerate the circular economy: Scaling up actions across regions and stakeholders

wbsd report infographic

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Author: 
World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Publication Date: 
09/2019
Country: 
EU
International

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Over the past couple of years, as companies start to understand the opportunities that lie under the concept of circular economy, the circularity conversation has gained significant momentum. At the same time, national and regional governments are developing frameworks and regulations to promote the circular economy.

Effective policymaking is crucial to accelerate and scale up circular actions in the economy. It supports businesses in overcoming hurdles by stimulating innovative projects and long-term investments in circularity, facilitating collaboration and partnerships, and producing tangible results.

Learning from successful policies can help inform future policies to promote wider actions in other sectors and regions over time.

By highlighting some representative pioneers in circular economy policy, exploring key enablers from these policies, describing how other regions could replicate these enablers and providing recommendations, this publication aims to provide insights from the policy perspective and to feed into the ongoing development of other initiatives and policies related to the circular economy globally.

Destination climate neutrality: a five year policy blueprint for Europe

destination climate neutrality
Author: 
EEB, IDDRI, CLIMACT
Publication Date: 
09/2019
Country: 
EU

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Destination Climate Neutrality brings together leading recommendations of think tanks, scientists, thought leaders and NGOs to offer a policy blueprint for how best to propel Europe towards net zero carbon emissions in the coming five years of the Von der Leyen term. It offers sector-by-sector analysis, targets and initiatives in the fields of governance, finance, industry, energy, transport, the circular economy, agriculture and employment.

On circular economy, the report identifies challenges in:

  • a lack of EU targets for waste prevention, reuse, repair and refurbishment
  • no monitoring framework for material flows
  • contamination of materials by hazardous ingredients
  • high demand for biomass

The authors identify opportunities in job creation, cleaner supply chains and product policies.

Circular jobs in Belgium - A baseline analysis of employment in the circular economy in Belgium

Circular jobs in Belgium - A baseline analysis of employment in the circular economy in Belgium

KBF infogrpahic on circular jobs in Belgium

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Author: 
Circle Economy, King Baudoin Foundation, Inoopa
Publication Date: 
09/2019
Country: 
Belgium

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Contact: 
Anneke Ernon

From shoemaker to wind energy park engineer: 7.5% of all jobs in Belgium are circular. This report presents a baseline measurement of employment in the Belgian circular economy and provides insights into the nature and number of jobs in the country’s circular economy. This includes all jobs contributing to the circular economy through activities in renewable energy, repair and maintenance, recycling, digital technology, design, new business models and collaboration.

Monitoring the employment effects of the circular economy will discern what specific employment opportunities the circular economy has to offer, how these are distributed across society and how we can equip the workforce with the right skills to meet changing demand.

This report, conducted by the King Baudouin Foundation and the Dutch social enterprise Circle Economy, aims to inform governments, employers, social partners and other representatives with a view to pursuing effective and inclusive circular labour policy.

An online monitor, which the partners will update regularly, complements the report.

Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change

Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change

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Author: 
Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Material Economics
Publication Date: 
09/2019
Country: 
EU

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Renewable energy is not enough. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the global approach to tackling climate change and the circular economy can play an essential role.

Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Changea paper published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, tells us:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions are not dropping quickly enough to achieve climate targets and switching to renewable energy can only cut them by 55%
  • The remaining 45% of emissions come from how we make and use products, and how we produce food

Whilst the circular economy is underpinned by renewable energy, the paper concentrates on five key areas (cement, plastics, steel, aluminium, and food) to illustrate how designing out waste, keeping materials in use, and regenerating farmland can reduce these emissions.

El Dorado of Chemical Recycling, State of play and policy challenges

Zero Waste Europe

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Author: 
Zero Waste Europe
Publication Date: 
08/2019
Country: 
EU

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Over the last few years the concept of chemical recycling has been promoted by industry as a potential solution to help curb plastic pollution and waste management as a whole. This Zero Waste Europe report looks into the knowledge available as well as the state of implementation of such technologies in the European context.

Mechanical recycling is a mature industrial process, well established and expanding in Europe. Plastics cannot however be endlessly recycled mechanically without reducing their properties and quality. Besides, not all plastic types can be mechanically recycled. These limits set challenges for plastics recycling and show the need for significant improvements in the end-of-life management of plastics.

Since decades, innovators test gasification and pyrolysis for alternatives to waste to energy incineration with very limited results due to the energy balance and the environmental impact. In general, more information is needed about the environmental performance of chemical recycling technologies, as this industry is in its infancy and most plants are mere pilots. The roll-out of such technologies at industrial scale can only be expected from 2025-2030, an important factor when planning the transition to a Circular Economy and wider decarbonisation.

The right policy framework must accommodate chemical recycling as complementary to mechanical recycling while ensuring that carbon stays in the plastic, thus not being released into the environment. Therefore, allowing plastic to fuels to be considered chemical recycling risks creating a loophole in EU Climate and Circular Economy legislation.

Elephant in the Boardroom: Why Unchecked Consumption is Not an Option in Tomorrow’s Markets

Elephant in the Boardroom: Why Unchecked Consumption is Not an Option in Tomorrow’s Markets

wri report logo
Author: 
Samantha Putt del Pino, Eliot Metzger, Deborah Drew, Kevin Moss
Publication Date: 
03/2017
Country: 
EU

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The Elephant in the Boardroom: Why Unchecked Consumption is Not an Option in Tomorrow’s Markets is a working paper from the World Resources Institute that can guide discussion within companies about an uncomfortable truth: many of today’s business models are not fit for tomorrow’s resource-strained world.

Normalizing the conversation will set the groundwork for the pursuit of new business models that allow growth within the planet’s limits and generate stakeholder value in new and exciting ways.

Exploring and evaluating Business Showcases from the Circular Economy Industry Platform

Exploring and evaluating business showcases from the circular economy industry platform

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Author: 
Lukas Stumpf
Publication Date: 
11/2018
Country: 
EU

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This research, part of the CEC4Europe factbook on the circular economy published in September 2018, evaluates 131 projects from the Circular Economy Industry Platform (CEIP) regarding their contribution to circular economy from both a scientific and political perspective.

Content analysis was applied to derive qualitative and quantitative information from company statements on the platform. This was supplemented by qualitative, semi-structured interviews with company representatives on selected projects. Results showed a diverse approach to circularity across the sample projects, thereby partly expanding the sectoral focus of the circular economy package.

Eco-design, eco-innovation and business models acted as strong enablers for circular actions in the sample, reflecting respective EU policies.

At the same time, sample projects heavily relied on recycling while missing out on potentially more efficient circular principles such as reduction or reuse.

High diversity in criteria was found regarding the evaluation of overall environmental impacts, with some projects using purely qualitative assessment methods, while other projects presented elaborate quantitative environmental evaluations, including significant positive impact potential. Regulatory challenges were specifically reported regarding the introduction of sound circularity quotas and targets, regarding definitional ambiguities, as well as regarding issues around unknown material compositions that currently impede recirculation.

New Plastics Economy 2019 Global Commitment Report

New Plastics Economy Global Commitment June 2019 Report logo

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Author: 
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Publication Date: 
06/2019
Country: 
EU

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The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment unites businesses, governments, and other organisations behind a common vision and targets to address plastic waste and pollution at its source. It is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the UN Environment Program. Launched in October 2018, the Global Commitment already unites more than 400 organisations in its common vision of a circular economy for plastics, keeping plastics in the economy and out of the ocean. Signatories include:

  • close to 200 businesses that are part of the plastic packaging value chain, jointly representing over 20 % of all plastic packaging used globally, including many of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods companies, retailers, and plastic packaging producers
  • 16 governments across five continents and across national, regional, and city level
  • 26 financial institutions with a combined USD 4.2 trillion worth of assets under management and 6 investors in total committing to invest about USD 275 million
  • leading institutions such as WWF, the World Economic Forum, the Consumer Goods Forum, and IUCN
  • more than 50 academics, universities, and other educational or research organisations including MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, Michigan State University, and University College London.

All 400+ organisations have endorsed one common vision of a circular economy for plastics, in which plastics never become waste. As this June 2019 report shows, the number of business signatories has grown from over 100 to nearly 200 in the seven months since the launch.

A Circular Solution to Plastic Waste

a circular solution to plastic waste

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Author: 
Boston Consulting Group
Publication Date: 
07/2019
Country: 
EU

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The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has released a report on tackling plastic waste using circular solutions, with a focus on the opportunities chemical recycling provides. After highlighting the scale of the issue, the report presents different ways of solving the plastic waste issue by comparing the impacts of different waste treatment options and technologies, such as pyrolysis. The report concludes that:

“To tackle the colossal societal and environmental issue of plastic waste, we need proportionally meaningful efforts from the private and public sectors as well as society at large that encompass behaviors and habits. The ultimate solutions will involve a combination of judicious consumption and disposal measures as well as the development of cost-competitive and environmentally friendly alternatives. Most observers would agree, however, that these changes are years away. In the meantime—over the next decade or two—we can implement circular solutions to reuse or repurpose plastic waste in the most efficient way.” (Boston Consulting Group, 2018, p. 24).

ECESP Coordination Group members contributed to this report, including Circular Change and Circle Economy.

Rapporto sull'Economia Circolare in Italia 2019

rapporto sull economia circolare 2019

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Author: 
ENEA, Circular Economy Network
Publication Date: 
04/2019
Country: 
Italy

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In March 2019, the Italian Circular Economy Network hosted a national conference on the circular economy, where it presented this Report on the Italian circular economy in 2019. Based on the methodology used, comparing the 5 most important European economies, Italy is the top performer in terms of circular economy implementation, ahead of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain (in this order). While Italy’s position has remained unchanged compared to the previous year, there are some small signs of a slowdown which must be taken into account.

The report makes the following 10 proposals for a circular economy in Italy:

  • Spread and enrich circular vision, knowledge, research and good practices
  • Implement a national strategy and action plan
  • Improve the use of economic instruments
  • Promote a regenerative bio-economy
  • Integrate circular principles in public procurement
  • Promote city initiatives
  • Ensure rapid and effective implementation of the 2018 EU waste framework legislation
  • Rapidly activate an effective end of waste (EoW) regulation
  • Ensure the necessary business support infrastructure
  • Extend circular principles to e-commerce

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