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Creating a Digital Roadmap for a Circular Economy

Creating a Digital Roadmap for a Circular Economy

EPC publication

The EU faces multiple challenges (climate crisis, environmental disasters, a lack of competitiveness, falling behind in the digital race, etc.) that it will need to address if it is to ensure long-term sustainable prosperity for European citizens. At the same time, there are two ongoing transitions – the creation of a circular economy and the digital transformation – that could provide the means to address these challenges, if they are managed well.

As the EU and national policymakers are making significant efforts to promote a circular economy on the one hand and a digital economy on the other, Annika Hedberg and Stefan Šipka, together with Johan Bjerkem, argue that it is time to align the agendas as a means to achieve greater sustainability and competitiveness.

This publication:

  • demonstrates what digitalisation means in the context of a circular economy;
  • considers what a greater focus on sustainability would mean for the digital transition;
  • examines the role of the EU policy framework, tools and initiatives in steering a (digital) transition towards a (digital) circular economy and makes recommendations for EU institutions for the next five year.

It suggests that the EU must:

  • think systemically, define a vision and act;
  • provide an adequate governance framework and economic incentives for a (digital) transition to a (digital) circular economy;
  • encourage collaboration across European society and economy as well as globally, and empower its citizens to contribute to the transition.

This Discussion Paper builds on the findings of the EPC’s "Digital Roadmap for a Circular Economy" project of 2017-19 and paves the way for a more extensive final study, scheduled to be published in the late autumn of 2019.

The project has been supported by Aalto University and the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) (members of Helsinki EU Office), Central Denmark region, Climate-KIC, the Estonian Ministry of the Environment, Estonian Environment Investment Centre, HP, Orgalim, the province of Limburg, UL, Fondazione Cariplo and Cariplo Factory.

02 Jul 2019 to 03 Jul 2019
Paris 2019 International Stewardship Forum Extended Producer Responsability Packaging products

The 2019 edition of the International Stewardship forum is co-organized in Paris by DASTRI and the GlobalPSC with the following objectives:

  • sharing the experience of different countries regarding the implementation and development of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and Product Stewardship (PS) schemes
  • thinking about how to create value beyond the end-of-life management of products
  • initiating a prospective reflection on the future of these EPR schemes.

Greenrail - Dawid Janik

Greenrail track

Greenrail is an Italian company that has developed an innovative and sustainable railway sleeper, offering excellent technical, environmental and economical features for the railway sector. The technology developed by Greenrail allows the production of railway sleepers with secondary raw materials, using a blend of rubber collected from ELTs (End of Life Tyres) and plastic from urban waste.

The company handles the whole process of design, prototyping and testing of the products, collaborating with primary research centres and industrial partners.

Consumer Insight Action Panel

Start/End date: 
07/03/2019 to 07/03/2021
Country: 
EU
City: 
Brussels

Discussed key areas:

Scope:

Coordination Group activity type:

Abstract: 

The Consumer Insight Action Panel is a two-year initiative jointly set up by the CSCP and Sitra as part of their contribution to the ECESP.
Its objective is to translate consumer needs and behavioural knowledge into impact-oriented activities, initiatives and recommendations to support policy makers, business and civil society in enabling consumer-relevant circular economy strategies.

 

13 Jun 2019 to 14 Jun 2019
Circular Future with Plastics

The European Plastics Converters Association, together with the German association for plastic packaging Industrievereinigung Kunststoff-verpackungen, is organizing its annual conference under the theme A Circular Future with Plastics on the 13-14 June 2019 in Berlin.

The Fair Plastic Alliance: give plastic a second life - and people a better one

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Italy, Other (Nigeria, South Africa)

Language for original content:

The Fair Plastic Alliance believes that plastic waste management based on a not-for-private-profit business model is a powerful solution to generate a positive impact on the environment and on the society as a whole, in both developed and developing countries. It is a multi-stakeholder network spreading social responsibility in plastic waste management, especially in low-income areas and adverse contexts, to achieve social as well as environmental sustainability.

21 May 2019

Event type:

City: 
Alessandria
Country: 
Italy

Scope:

We are pleased to invite you to the ECP4 2019 Annual Conference, which will be held on the 21st May 2019 in Alessandria (Italy) and will be focused on “Research And Innovation For Plastics In A Circular Economy”.

16 May 2019
Circular Cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste

Event type:

City: 
Brussels
Country: 
Belgium

On 16 May, ICLEI Europe and the PlastiCircle project will join forces to host the special conference ‘Circular Cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste’. More than 100 stakeholders from across Europe will gather at Scotland House in Brussels (Belgium) to assess European Union policies on the circular economy for plastics, the role of cities in tackling plastic waste, and the industry innovations driving circularity in Europe’s urban areas.

Greenrail: innovative & eco-sustainable railway sleepers

Greenrail track

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Italy

Language for original content:

Scope:

Greenrail sleepers consist of an outer cover made of a blend of ELTs and recycled plastic, and an inner core of pre-stressed, reinforced concrete.

R-PVC Hub

Platform Type:

Country: 
Italy

Language for original content:

R-PVC Hub is an innovative web platform, connected to the site of PVC Forum Italia, that offers the possibility for the exchange of recycled PVC, putting in contact offers and demands. The heart of the service is an online platform on which manufacturing companies, processors and recyclers can find new business opportunities.

ENEA Platform for Industrial Symbiosis

Enea has designed the first Italian industrial symbiosis platform, as a tool to facilitate the process.

The ENEA methodology is based on a "horizontal" network approach, with the aim of creating synergies and closing the loop between supply and demand for various resources.

The Platform is based on:

  • an expert structure that identifies possible solutions of industrial symbiosis
  • a complex information structure, also georeferenced, which describes the territory, its structures, the interlocutors and available resources
  • a network that connects different interlocutors
  • a web interface.

Among other activities and services, Symbiosis is able to send to to each company individual reports containing information on potential matches of interest. It is also developing operating manuals for industrial symbiosis.

Plastics recyclates: Plastship offer services for better quality and marketability

plastship logo

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Germany

Language for original content:

Scope:

plastship, successfully launched in May 2019, is a German digital startup that has created a trading and service platform for buyers and sellers of regrinds, re-granulates and recyclates.

6 May 2019
Environmental Protection Agency

A 600.000 EUR funding programme to support innovators in Ireland to develop and demonstrate consumer and business solutions that will stimulate the circular economy is now open for applications.

27 Mar 2019

News type:

Country: 
EU

Scope:

On March 27, the European Parliament voted to adopt the Single-Use Plastics Directive, thus banning single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned by 2021, setting a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029 and introducing more stringent application of the “polluter pays” principle.

Idea Plast: decades of design and production experience bring playful new life to recycled plastics

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Italy

Language for original content:

Key Area:

Idea Plast is an Italian company specialising in the design of plastic parts since 1987. It aims at providing clients with a full service for new plastic manufactured goods, including design, prototyping, testing and best options for end-of-life recycling.

Flustix - Labelling plastic goods to support responsible consumption

Flustix Plasticfree & Flustix Recycled

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Germany

Language for original content:

Flustix is a certification body for plastic-free and partially plastic-free products as well as goods made from recycled plastics. By making plastic reduction clearly visible for customers, the certification provides guidance and the opportunity to make a plastic-aware buying decision.

Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform

polyolefin circular economy platform

Platform Type:

Country: 
EU

Language for original content:

The Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP) is a European joint industry value chain initiative, founded by two plastics industry associations (EuPC and PlasticsEurope) in order to advance the circular economy by increasing the reuse and recycling of polyolefin-based products and the use of recyclates as raw material.

Polyofelins are the most widely used family of plastics. They are present in every day life and are fully recyclable. Their main products are high, low and linear low density polyethylene (HDPE, LDPE, LLDPE) and polypropylene (PP). Polyethylene (PE) and PP represent close to 50% of the total European plastic production and are largely utilized in various plastic applications. 

PCEP recognises that a business-as-usual approach will not enable the proposed challenging target of 55% plastic packaging "preparing for re-use and recycling” by 2025, as outlined in the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package, so the platform will be working for a 5-10 year horizon based on effective, science-based solutions. It will initially focus on polyolefin-based packaging as it represents the application segment where highest quantities of valuable recycled raw materials can be generated.  

PCEP is developing activities in the following areas of work:

  • Development of packaging design guidelines and assessment.
  • Innovation to increase the recyclability of flexible and rigid packaging.
  • EU-wide quality standards for sorted plastics, harmonisation of test methods for recycled plastic materials and certification of plastic recycling operations.
  • Innovation & development of end-use markets to encourage demand for recycled plastics.
  • Stimulating innovation to improve mechanical recycling, conversion technologies and reuse.
  • Driving the R&D of new technologies to convert non-mechanically recyclable plastics into feedstock for the production of new materials.

2018_Wat_Sci_Tech_Incover_final publicado

Start-up of a microalgae-based treatment system within the biorefinery concept: from wastewater to bioproducts

Author: 
Enrica Uggetti, Joan García, Juan Antonio Álvarez and María Jesús García-Galán
Publication Date: 
12/2018
Country: 
United Kingdom

Language for original content:

Contact: 
Juan Antonio Alvarez Rodriguez

Within the European project INCOVER, an experimental plant uses low-energy photobioreactors to cultivate micro-algae and transform wastewater into bioproducts.

This article describes this new experimental plant and the start-up stage, starting from the new design of three semi-closed horizontal photobioreactors with low energy requirements, for microalgae cultivation (30 m3 total), using agricultural runoff and urban wastewater as feedstock.

The inflow nutrients concentration is adjusted to select cyanobacteria, microalgae able to accumulate polyhydroxybutyrates, which can be used for bioplastics production. Part of the harvested biomass is used as substrate for anaerobic co-digestion (AcoD) with secondary sludge to obtain biogas. This biogas is then cleaned in an absorption column to reach methane concentration up to 99%. The digestate from the AcoD is further processed in sludge wetlands for stabilization and biofertilizer production.

On the other hand, treated water undergoes ultrafiltration and disinfection through a solar-driven process, then it is pumped through absorption materials to recover nutrients, and eventually applied in an agricultural field to grow energy crops by means of a smart irrigation system. This plant presents a sustainable approach for wastewater management, which can be seen as a resource recovery process, more than a waste treatment.

Gumdrop gives chewing gum a second life

Gumdrop

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
United Kingdom

Language for original content:

Gumdrop Ltd is the first company in the world to recycle and process chewing gum into a range of products such as boots or phone covers that can be used in the rubber and plastics industry.

MaterialDistrict: a unique match-making platform for innovative materials

Material District

MaterialDistrict is a unique platform for innovative materials which empowers global innovation by match-making material needs with material solutions in the name of circularity. R&D and design professionals of all industrial sectors use this platform to discover new material solutions daily via MaterialDistrict's independent collection of materials, annually at MaterialDistrict Rotterdam and periodically throughout the year with travelling MaterialDistrict Expo, MaterialDistrict Talks and MaterialDistrict Pop-Up events.

Di-Plast: developing digital quality control for recyclate PM material flow

Plastic recyclates

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
EU

Language for original content:

Scope:

Use of recycled plastic material (rPM) in North West Europe is homogeneously low. In packaging and building, the highest plastic-consuming sectors, only 8% of plastic employed is recyclate (Plastics Europe 2016). This is often due to the lack of information on purity and composition of recycled plastics. The Interreg NWE research project Di-Plast develops digital technology to enable complete documentation and quality assurance of recycled plastic material flows.

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