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Circular economy for climate neutrality: Setting the priorities for the EU

Circular economy for climate neutrality: Setting the priorities for the EU

Author: 
Vasileios Rizos, Milan Elkerbout, Christian Egenhofer
Publication Date: 
11/2019
Country: 
EU

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Contact: 
Vasileios Rizos
Milan Elkerbout
Christian Egenhofer

The previous Commission policy on resources management was part of the priority for jobs and growth and economic competitiveness. The circular economy will be no less important for the new political priority of climate neutrality; it will become one of the indispensable elements for meeting the EU’s ambitions.

EU climate policy and the circular economy are, by and large, complementary and mutually reinforcing. The circular economy is more than just another ‘product standards’ policy.

Circular economy products for the foreseeable future will require both technology push and market pull policies. The principal challenge will be to create ‘lead markets’ for the circular economy in combination with low-carbon products. 

Identifying the impact of the circular economy on the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Industry: opportunities and challenges for businesses, workers and consumers – mobile phones as an example

Identifying the impact of the circular economy on the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Industry: opportunities and challenges for businesses, workers and consumers – mobile phones as an example

mobile pone case study of circular economy impact CEPS EESC

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Author: 
Centre for European Policy Studies
Publication Date: 
10/2019
Country: 
EU

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Mobile phones, particularly smartphones, have undergone a period of rapid growth to become virtually indispensable to today's lifestyle. Yet their production, use and disposal can entail a significant environmental burden.

This study, commissioned by the European Economic and Social Committee and carried out by the Centre for European Policy Studies, looks at the opportunities and challenges arising from implementing circular economy approaches in the mobile phone value chain. A review of the value chain and different circular approaches is complemented by a scenario analysis that aims to quantify the potential impacts of circular approaches such as recycling, refurbishment and lifetime extension.

The study finds that there is a large untapped potential for recovering materials from both the annual flow of new mobile phones sold in Europe once they reach the end of their life and the accumulated stock of unused, so-called "hibernating" devices in EU households. Achieving high recycling rates for these devices can offer opportunities to reduce EU dependence on imported materials and make secondary raw materials available on the EU market, as shown in the picture below.

Drawing on the empirical findings and the analysis conducted, this study recommends policy action in the following areas:

  • Collection rates of old unused mobile phone devices are low, which means there is largely unexploited potential in the EU for recovering valuable materials from these devices.
  • Although consumers generally show willingness to engage in circular economy practices for mobile phones, in reality only a few do so.
  • Various challenges for reuse and refurbishment businesses stem from EU legislation, including regulatory complexity and "preparation for use" in the WEE directive

As such, policy-makers should close the collection gap for mobile phone devices, which could in turn create jobs in the refurbishment sector. Extending the lifetime of mobile phones can also provide CO2 mitigation benefits, particularly from displacing the production of new devices.

Rediscover Cycling puts life back into unwanted bicycles

Rediscover Cycling

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Country: 
Ireland

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Rediscover Cycling is a bicycle reuse social enterprise located at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Dublin.

Rediscover Fashion promotes circular design by giving new life to unwanted textiles

Rediscover Fashion

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Ireland

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Rediscover Fashion is a social enterprise that produces 100 % redesigned and repurposed clothing, accessories, and home ware ranges from unwanted textiles, preventing the materials from being sent to landfill.

Rediscover Paint collects unwanted paint and prepares it for reuse

Rediscover Paint

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Ireland

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This social enterprise collects unwanted paint donated at local recycling centres, filters and remixes it to create new paint sold at the Rediscovery Centre’s Eco Store.

Rediscover Furniture promotes upcycling by giving new life to old furniture

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Country: 
Ireland

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Rediscover Furniture is a furniture restoration and upcycling social enterprise housed at the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, Dublin.

SWEETS hotel upcycles Amsterdam's bridge houses into unique guest rooms

sweets hotel room example

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Country: 
Netherlands

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Since 2012, SWEETS hotel has been adapting Amsterdam's abandoned bridge houses into unique flats, thus preventing their demolition.

Usitoo: a functional economy catalogue that lengthens the use-time of products

USITOO

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Country: 
Belgium

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To prevent consumers from buying items they use only a few times a year, Usitoo enables customers to rent these instead. The cooperative has a catalogue of hundreds of items that its customers can rent with credit, thus making the possession span of these items much longer.

18 Sep 2019 to 20 Sep 2019

The 3rd international PLATE conference (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) will  address product lifetimes in the context of sustainability, and is hosted by TU Berlin and Fraunhofer IZM from 18 to 20 September 2019

Wolkat - a family business closing the loop on textile recycling

Wolkat collects, sorts, recycles and re-develops textile.

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
Netherlands

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Wolkat is an international group of seven innovative textile recycling companies. It was founded as a family business in 1948.

Today Wolkat is offering a complete circular solution for textiles. Collected textile is transformed in-house to new products for fashion, car or furniture industry. Sorting, recycling, spinning and weaving is all done in-house. All collected textile is transformed into a final product with hardly any water or any dye, leaving only 4-5 % waste from all textiles. The rest is new raw material. 

20 Sep 2019 to 22 Sep 2019
fixfest2019

In 2017, Fixfest brought together over 200 volunteer repairers and tinkerers, activists, policy-makers, thinkers, and companies from all over the world in the name of taking greater care of the things we own – and better products.

06 Nov 2019 to 07 Nov 2019
urbanrec logo

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City: 
Brussels
Country: 
Belgium

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Discover the final results of the three-year long URBANREC project by joining project partners on 6 November in Brussels for a morning session of policy dialogue in the European Parliament.

Karun upcycles harmful waste into high quality sunglasses

Karun sunglasses and fishing nets

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Country: 
Italy, Sweden, Other (Chile)

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Karün is a Swedish-Chilean company producing sunglass frames entirely from discarded fishing nets and jeans, collected in Patagonia.

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.

06 Nov 2019 to 08 Nov 2019

Event type:

City: 
Berriozar (Pamplona)
Country: 
Spain

RREUSE, the European network of social enterprises active in re-use, repair and recycling, is organising its third annual conference, in collaboration with the Spanish social enterprise network AERESS and Traperos de Emaús Navarra. This unique event will focus on strategies supporting longer-lasting products through re-use and repair that create local inclusive jobs, provide green products and services and contribute positively to well-being in our society.

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.

Denmark learns from Belgium on how to create repair and reuse networks

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Country: 
Belgium

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On 24-25 September 2018, the Danish inter-municipal waste management company AVV, which serves two Danish municipalities, visited the City of Brussels and its surroundings as part of a study visit on setting up effective repair and reuse systems. The visit was carried out within the framework of the TAIEX Peer-2-Peer EU Programme and with the support of Municipal Waste Europe and Bruxelles Environment.

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.

The Danube goes Circular - Transnational Strategy to Accelerate Transition Towards a Circular Economy in the Danube Region

The Danube goes Circular - Transnational Strategy to Accelerate Transition Towards a Circular Economy in the Danube Region

Publication Date: 
05/2019
Country: 
Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Other (Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

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contact

One of the Interreg DTP MOVECO (Mobilizing Institutional Learning for Better Exploitation of Research and Innovation for the Circular Economy) project results is the Transnational Strategy to accelerate transition towards a circular economy in the Danube region.

Be transnational – reducing disparities within the Danube Region can only happen through cooperation, capacity building and knowledge exchange across borders. This holds also true for the implementation of the circular economy to make the Danube Region, as a resource poor region, less dependent on imported primary resources.

MOVECO identified key challenges with regard to the transition towards a circular economy and offers recommendations for progress. The strategy further provides the reader with many good practice examples and possibilities to raise awareness for circular economy.

Regular updates on the MOVECO project can be found on this page.

Circular Economy in Cities - Factsheets - Urban Products System Summary

Circular economy in cities - Products factsheets

Circular Economy In Cities_Factsheets_Products

These factsheets outline circular economy opportunities to design out urban waste and pollution, ensure products and materials maintain their value, and regenerate the natural systems in our cities.

Easy-to-reference, the factsheets are a collation of research and case examples that answer some of the most prevalent questions around what circular economy can bring to cities:

  • Why is change in cities needed?
  • What circular economy opportunities address key urban system issues?
  • What can urban policymakers do to harness circular economy opportunities?
  • What are the potential economic, social, and environmental benefits of these opportunities?

The whole collection of factsheets, by system and phase, is available on the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation website.
 

La Caverne d'Ali Baba: a re-use library for art students at ESA Saint-Luc, Brussels

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Country: 
Belgium

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réemploi de matériaux

The Caverne d'Ali Baba (Ali Baba thieve's cave) is an initiative by and for students in the art school of ESA Saint-Luc, in Brussels.

According to the Fédération des Récupérathèques, of which the initiative belongs to, the service stands as a shared and co-managed warehouse of reuse materials, available to students for any of their creative projects. Valorisation and exchanges make use of local virtual currency. These initiatives aim at promoting a sustainable model in schools, based on collective intelligence, solidarity and social interaction.

VertECO: a vertical ecosystem for indoor and outdoor greywater treatment

vertECO

VertECO consists of a vertical ecosystem (vertical constructed wetland) treating greywater from handwash basins, showers, and laundries.

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