Energy Saxony e.V. and Circular MTC e.V. have received funding from the Free State of Saxony to set up the innovation cluster Circular Saxony which will lay the groundwork for a ready-for-circularity economy in Saxony.
The cluster aims to re-design products and processes in line with circularity and sustainability, while lowering the costs of society's transformation towards climate neutrality. Circular Saxony brings together industry, research and policy representatives in thematic working groups which will work on practical solutions within the region of Saxony.
Blue Plastics technology, called CleanBlueTech, is a pioneering, solvent-based, closed-loop washing technology that removes smell, glue, print-ink and organic residues from any plastic flexible film waste.
CleanBlueTech is a game changer as it uses 70% less energy and 100% less water than existing technologies.
Many actors see the EU’s circular economy (CE) as a promising narrative which steps outside dominant end-of-pipe solutions towards an encompassing vision for strategies across the supply chain. However, this study finds that the EU CE Action Plan maintains the status quo narrative instead of suggesting radical changes.
By focusing on stakeholder narratives, this analysis shows that the inertia is primarily due to CE proponents’ self-perception of being in a legitimacy crisis and their strategic arguments that have:
concealed social conflict and potential trade-offs
strengthened the agency of ‘status quo’ agents
excluded alternative voices questioning the proposed CE narrative.
The paper discusses how to develop new environmental narratives outside the status quo.
France's Law Against Food Waste has become an international model for sustainable food policy. The law is often described as combining economic efficiency with environmental protection and social equity. However, stakeholder narratives cast doubt on whether this French CE law really contributes to social justice in the long run. This discourse analysis shows that:
the ban on food waste institutionalised a narrative about food waste that prioritises profit over social equity
the traditionally dominant solidarity narrative about food waste has been pushed back by the emerging CE discourse
As a consequence of this shift, activities enacted in the name of the CE may counteract social equity goals (for instance by establishing competition with charities).
Policies are focusing on halving food waste to help conserve increasingly strained food resources. However, expanding their scope of action to include dietary changes and complement targets with resource footprints has greater potential to save resources while avoiding trade-offs.
This paper shows that in Germany:
Healthy, plant-based diets are more effective at reducing land and biomass use than halving food waste
A combination of more plant-based food consumption and food waste reduction in distribution and consumption is most effective at saving resources
Focusing exclusively on food waste reduction as a policy target can be detrimental to the overarching goal of saving resources because it deflects attention away from more effective alternatives.
The circular economy (CE) is gaining momentum in cities. To ensure a sustainable CE, it is crucial to measure the environmental performance of CE strategies. However, environmental assessments overlook several strategies that are a key feature of urban CE practice. These include reuse and repair, sustainable built infrastructure and urban land use, green public procurement, smart information and access technology.
To provide insights into the environmental performance and potential of these strategies, industrial ecologists and municipalities should:
collaborate with urban systems experts
quantify the environmental impacts of entire urban systems
combine environmental assessments with social and economic feasibility ones.
134 people died in the devastating flooding in the German region of Ahrweiler in July 2021, caused by a climate change-induced weather situation. Over 400 000 tonnes of waste were created by the floods in one night. 40 000 households were hit, and massive damage to infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals was reported. The situation was described as being similar to the massive destruction following a war.
Thinking Circular’s report summarises the process of waste management and learning from this regional crisis.