You are here

Sustainable development

27 Nov 2018 to 28 Nov 2018
erf 2018 logo

The Umweltbundesamt will host the 4th European Resources Forum in Berlin from 27 to 28 November 2018. The ERF is a platform for discussion on the issue of sustainable resource use by focusing on the political and scientific debate on this subject and seeks to contribute to the development and implementation of common positions for policy-making in Europe and internationally.

24 Sep 2018
Lodz bioeconomy congress logo

The European Bioeconomy Congress Lodz 2018 will be held on September 24th, 2018, in Lodz, Poland to support the development of a bioeconomy in the Central and Eastern European Bioregions.

Implementing Circular Economy globally makes Paris targets achievable

Implementing Circular Economy globally makes Paris targets achievable

Paris targets achievable title page

Type:

Author: 
ECOFYS, Circle Economy
Publication Date: 
06/2016
Country: 
Netherlands

Language for original content:

Contact: 
Cornelis Blok
Preeti Srivastav

The climate conference in Paris has produced a landmark agreement. The emission reduction commitments made by 195 countries are a leap forward, but not yet sufficient to stay on a 2 °C trajectory, let alone a 1.5 °C pathway. Current commitments address only half the gap between business as usual and the 1.5 °C pathway. There is still a reduction of about 15 billion tonnes CO2e needed to reach the 1.5 °C target. Further solutions are therefore needed; solutions that go beyond decarbonising our energy system. This white paper by Ecofys and Circle Economy looks into the contribution a global circular economy could presumably make to bridging the emissions gap.

Since over half of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are associated with producing basic materials, there is a clear role for circular economy strategies in reducing this gap. To do this, the circular economy describes a practical and scalable landscape of opportunities by moving towards business models for an economy that is by design regenerative and as waste free as possible. Strategies at the heart of the circular economy include measures to reduce the input of virgin materials, improve the use of existing assets and reduce the output of waste. Circular economy strategies related to materials are: recovery and reuse, lifetime extension, sharing and service models, circular design and digital platforms.

Circular Economy and Employment

figure displaying employment effects of eco-innovation
Author: 
Prof. Dr. Jens Horbach, Klaus Rennings, Katrin Sommerfeld
Publication Date: 
09/2015
Country: 
Germany

Language for original content:

Scope:

Contact: 
Jens Horbach

Circular Economy and Employment first summarizes the main definitions and conceptualisations of a circular economy, then clarifies the relationship to related concepts such as green growth and eco-innovation. This report is the outcome of a project estimating the employment effects of a circular economy.

The Circular Economy mainly focuses on savings on the shares of material, labour, energy, and capital embedded in the product. In finite systems it is intended to “design out waste”. An important difference is made between consumables (one or few time usage) and durables (years of usage) products. Material savings can be achieved by already established recycling and remanufacturing activities finally aiming at a “zero waste economy”. More recently, the contribution of green ICT leading to less material inputs (“digital revolution”, e.g. photos are no longer printed but distributed by e-mail or social media), a general greater importance of services, the evolution of the sharing economy (e. g. car sharing) or a higher utilisation rate for products for the circular economy are discussed.

Detailed concepts of green growth from OECD, UNEP, EEA and the Global Green Growth Institute are also considered. Green growth means fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. Investment and (eco-) innovation activities shall give rise to new, more sustainable sources of growth and development. Moving towards a circular economy may be understood as a tool to achieve a green economy, a circular economy is one of the main elements helping to achieve the greening of an economy.

Employment and the circular economy: Job creation in a more resource efficient Britain

Employment and the circular economy: Job creation in a more resource efficient Britain

Britain employment in CE report title page

Type:

Author: 
WRAP, Green Alliance
Publication Date: 
12/2015
Country: 
United Kingdom

Language for original content:

Britain faces huge economic challenges in its use of labour and scarce natural resources. Although unemployment is now falling, the risk of being out of work is higher in some regions and for some types of occupations. While Britain has significantly increased its resource efficiency in recent years, supply risks in an increasingly competitive global economy mean that we need to get better at using natural resources. A new research study, undertaken jointly by WRAP and the Green Alliance, shows that these challenges are linked: improving our resource efficiency can make a valuable contribution to improving Britain’s labour market situation.

One route to improving resource efficiency is to develop a circular economy. This involves keeping products and resources in use for as long as possible through recovery, reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling. In addition to protecting the environment, this potentially offers substantial economic benefits. These include greater economic stability through increased resource security and new business and employment opportunities from an expanding industrial sector. This study focuses on the second aspect and identifies the scope for the growth of the circular economy to offer new jobs.

The study finds that regions where unemployment is higher, such as the North East and the West Midlands, could see the greatest impact on job creation, especially among low to mid-skilled occupations where job losses are projected for the future.

The study finds that if we stay on the current development path for the circular economy in Britain, then by 2030 the sector could:

  • require an extra 205,000 jobs;
  • reduce unemployment by around 54,000; and
  • offset 11% of future losses in skilled employment.

Alternatively, under a transformational scenario where there was a more extensive expansion of circular economy activities, by 2030 the sector could create over half a million jobs, reduce unemployment by over 100,000 and potentially offset around 18% of the expected future losses in skilled employment.

Circular Jobs: Understanding Employment in the Circular Economy in the Netherlands

Circular Jobs: Understanding employment in the Circular Economy in the Netherlands

circular jobs title page

Type:

Author: 
Circle Economy, EHero
Publication Date: 
03/2017
Country: 
Netherlands

Language for original content:

Scope:

Contact: 
Harald Friedl

To ensure that policymakers and governments know how and where to implement the circular economy effectively, there is a great need for practical tools to measure it.

Aimed at defining, identifying and quantifying employment opportunities that are needed in the circular economy, Circle Economy and the Erasmus Research Institute for Happiness Economics (Ehero) have developed a standardised and replicable methodology that measures circular employment in cities around the world. This opens up the possibility of monitoring circular employment and therefore empowers cities and governments to effectively invest in the jobs of the future.

The initial findings of this joint research show that 8.1% of all jobs in the Netherlands are currently circular. Once identified, the circular jobs were categorised according to the seven key elements of the circular economy, showing that a large majority are focused on ‘incorporating digital technology’ and ‘preserving and extending what’s already made’. In the past fifteen years, activities that involve ‘repair & maintenance‘ have remained stable in numbers, with the ‘incorporation of digital technologies’ becoming an up and coming job provider. This points to the importance of knowledge-intensive industries and innovation within the Dutch economy.  

Plan national de gestion des déchets et des ressources (PNGDR)

Luxembourg's National Waste and Resource Management Plan

title page of Luxembourg national waste and management plan
Publication Date: 
06/2018
Country: 
Luxembourg

Language for original content:

Scope:

Strategy level:

Contact: 
Paul Rasqué

Luxembourg's new National Waste and Resource Management Plan includes measures and guidelines for the implementation of the amended Waste Management Act of March 21, 2012. It analyzes the situation regarding waste management and lists measures that will be taken to ensure the re-use, recycling, recovery and disposal of waste in the most environmentally friendly conditions while remaining in line with the national and European legislative context. The prevention program is integrated in the text of the national plan and introduces a whole-system approach for waste prevention.

The overall objective of the NWRMP is to protect the environment, cultural property and human health by preventing and reducing the harmful effects of waste. In addition, waste management has long-term goals, including conservation of resources, climate protection and impacts for future generations.

This plan represents a considerable step in the transition towards a circular economy, and builds on the principles of a sober and responsible consumption of natural resources, the optimisation of product life cycles, opportunities for re-use or failing that, waste recycling.

The NWRMP, among others, includes the following ambitious targets for 2022:

  • reducing food waste by 50%;
  • 65% collection rate of electric and electronic waste;
  • less than 10% of all municipal waste going to landfill.

The plan was also drafted in consultation with stakeholders and citizens over a 3-year period. This included thematic workshops on municipal waste, food waste, construction & demolition waste and treatment plant waste. The plan also received input through the May 2017 'National Waste Day' and further public consultations in Spring 2018. Its implementation willl be overseen by the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure's environmental agency for the period 2018 - 2022.

Breaking the Barriers to the Circular Economy

Deloitte UU white paper title page

Type:

Author: 
Deloitte, Utrecht University
Publication Date: 
10/2017
Country: 
Netherlands

Language for original content:

Scope:

Contact: 
Julian Kirchherr

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, the Netherlands and Deloitte have jointly carried out research on barriers to the Circular Economy (CE) in the European Union. For this research, a survey with 153 businesses, 55 government officials and expert interviews with forty-seven thought leaders on the circular economy from businesses, governments, academia and NGOs have been carried out. Two types of barriers emerged as main barriers.

Firstly, there are the cultural barriers of lacking consumer interest and awareness as well as a hesitant company culture. This finding is at odds with claims that the circular economy concept is hyped; rather, the concept may be a niche discussion among sustainable development professionals.

Secondly, market barriers emerged as a core category of barriers, particularly low virgin material prices and high upfront investments costs for circular business models.

Government intervention might be needed to overcome the market barriers which then may also help to overcome cultural barriers. Cultural barriers do also need to be overcome by circular start-ups. And, even though there is still no circular startup that has made global headlines, this may change soon.

Kalundborg Symbiosis: six decades of a circular approach to production

logo of Kalundborg industrial symbiosis

Kalundborg Symbiosis is a partnership between nine public and private companies in Kalundborg, Denmark.

Developing a national programme for textiles and clothing recovery

Developing a national programme for textiles and clothing recovery

Author: 
Mohammad Bukharu, Ruth Carrasco-Gallego, Eva Ponce-Cueto
Publication Date: 
03/2018
Country: 
France

Language for original content:

Textiles waste is relatively small in terms of weight as compared to other waste streams, but it has a large impact on human health and environment, and its rate is increasing due to the ‘fast fashion’ model. In this paper, the authors examine the French national programme for managing post-consumer textiles and clothing through a case study research.

France is the only country in the world implementing an extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy for end-of-use clothing, linen and shoes. The case highlights the benefits of using an EPR policy and provides interesting insights about the challenges faced by the textiles waste sector. For instance, the EPR policy has contributed to a threefold increase in the collection and recycling rates of post-consumer textiles since 2006. In addition, the material recovery rate of the post-consumer textiles can reach 90%, 50% of which can be directly reused. However, the ‘reuse’ stream is facing some challenges because its main market is in Africa and many African countries are considering banning the import of used textiles to encourage a competitive textiles industry locally and internationally.

The EPR policy shows a great potential to identify new markets for ‘reuse’ and to improve the textiles waste sector. Such an EPR policy also could drive societies to financially support innovation and research to provide feasible solutions for fashion producers to adopt eco-design and design for recycling practices. This paper provides guidance for policy makers, shareholders, researchers and practitioners interested in diverting post-consumer textiles and clothing waste from landfills and promoting circular textiles transition.

The circular economy: New or Refurbished as CE 3.0?

The circular economy: New or Refurbished as CE 3.0?

Author: 
Denise Reike, Walter J.V. Vermeulen, Sjors Witjes
Publication Date: 
08/2018
Country: 
EU

Language for original content:

Scope:

Contact: 
Denise Reike

Over the last decade, the concept of the circular economy has regained attention, especially related to efforts to achieve a more sustainable society. The ‘revival’ of the circular economy has been accompanied by controversy and confusion across different actors in science and practice. With this article the authors attempt at contributing to advanced clarity in the field and providing a heuristic that is useful in practice. Initially, they take a focus on the historical development of the concept of circular economy and value retention options for products and materials aiming for increased circularity.

The authors propose to distinguish three phases in the evolution of the circular economy and argue that the concept – in its dominant framing – is not as new as frequently claimed. Having established this background knowledge, they give insights into ‘how far we are’ globally, with respect to the implementation of circularity, arguing that high levels of circularity have already been reached in different parts of the globe with regard to longer loop value retention options, such as energy recovery and recycling. Subsequently, the authors show that the confusion surrounding the circular economy is more far reaching. They summarize the divergent perspectives on retention options and unite the most common views using a 10R typology.

From their analyses, the authors conclude that policymakers and businesses should focus their efforts on realization of the more desirable, shorter loop retention options, like remanufacturing, refurbishing and repurposing – yet with a view on feasibility and overall system effects. Scholars, on the other hand, should assist the parties contributing to an increased circular economy in practice by taking up a more active role in attaining consensus in conceptualizing the circular economy.

Social Circular Economy: Opportunities for People, Planet and Profit

Social Circular Economy Report cover

Type:

Author: 
Social Circular Economy, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, The Frank Jackson Foundation
Publication Date: 
07/2018
Country: 
United Kingdom

Language for original content:

Scope:

Is the current circular economy paradigm enough? Will it get us to a fairer society and flourishing planet? Will it allow us to meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals? Perhaps not. There could be a different way: by combining social enterprise and circular economy (= social circular economy), to deliver benefits to people, planet and profit.

​The Social Circular Economy report provides insights from our engagement with 30+ organisations from around the world that are using the value creating approaches of the circular economy to deliver environmental, societal and economic benefits. From a recycling hub supporting a disability rehabilitation centre to corporate uniform repurposing with women's collectives, there are organisations innovating business models and processes to do business better and help meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. This report covers:

  • What is the social circular economy?
  • What are the themes across social circular enterprises?
  • What are examples of these organisations?
  • How can you or your organisation participate?
24 Oct 2018
Annual meeting 2018
City: 
Brussels
Country: 
Belgium

Brussels Environment invites you to the #beCircular Annual Meeting 2018 of the Regional Programme in Circular Economy: "Brussels, pioneer Region in circular economy": an opportunity to meet key players, discuss the most relevant issues and draw inspiration from Brussels' initiatives in circular economy.

04 Oct 2018
Environment Ireland logo

Environment Ireland® is Ireland’s major environmental policy and management conference. Organised in association with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the conference is now in its 14th year and will feature a roundtable on Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy.

05 Sep 2018
Circular Impacts Final Conference

For the past 2 years, the CIRCULAR IMPACTS project has been collecting evindence on the impacts of moving towards a Circular Economy in Europe. On September 5th the project team will present its final report at an afternoon conference in Brussels with live feedback from the European Commission, whom these assessments aim to help in discussions with member states and civil society on progress in this field.

20 Sep 2018
Vienna conference poster

The EU Circular Economy Package and its implementation will be key issues during the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2018.

The Austrian Water and Waste Management Association (ÖWAV) the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism (BMNT) and Altstoff Recycling Austria AG (ARA) will host an international circular economy conference on September 20th in Vienna.

CEC4Europe played an important role in creating the programme.

19 Sep 2018
Vienna symposium banner

The EU Circular Economy Package and its implementation will be key issues during the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2018.

Prior to the EU Circular Economy Conference, research findings as to what extend a circular economy can actually contribute to a more sustainable use of resources will be presented at the scientific symposium which will be co-hosted by the Vienna University of Technology, Christian Doppler Laboratory for Anthropogenic Resources and CEC4Europe on September 19th 2018.

18 Jul 2018 to 19 Jul 2018
Bologna conference logo

The European Movement Italy will host a two-day international workshop on "A New Successful Economic, Industrial, Financial, Territorial Management Model – SDGs & Circular Economy" in Bologna . This workshop, organised in collaboration with civil society partners and local authorities, aims to link the circular economy to the Sustainable Development Goals as a useful method to achieve these and adopt a new developmental paradigm.

The SDGs & Circular Economy workshop will provide an overview of initiatives at the European and Italian level, discuss existing projects, initiatives and policies, and formulate recommendations.

Cerrar el círculo: el business case de la economía circular

Type:

Author: 
Elena Ruiz , Paula Ruiz
Publication Date: 
07/2018
Country: 
Spain

Language for original content:

Scope:

Contact: 
Elena Ruiz
Paula Ruiz

"Cerrar el círculo: el business case de la economía circular" (Closing the loop: the business case for a circular economy) is a report authored in 2018 by Foretica, which shows the latest trends in circular economy, a practical roadmap to guide companies towards a circular mindset as well as best practices from 9 companies that are leading the transition towards a circular economy in Spain.

Forética is a multi-stakeholder non-profit organisation working to promoting ethical and socially responsible policies at the core of institutional and corporate values. In 2017, Foretica launched the Circular Economy Action Group with 9 leading companies: Ecoembes, Endesa, Naturgy, IKEA Ibérica, ING, LafargeHolcim, Nestlé, OHL and Unilever.

26 Nov 2018 to 29 Nov 2018
CARE-electronics

The International CARE Electronics Office is pleased to announce the Going Green – CARE INNOVATION 2018 conference and exhibition on Electronics and the Environment. It will take place in Vienna's Schoenbrunn Palace Conference Centre, which is situated in the Apothecaries’ Wing of the famous building. This 7th International Symposium and Environmental Exhibition, titled 'Towards a Resource Efficient Economy', is the platform to present the state of play of sustainable development and the development of eco-efficient electr(on)ic & automotive products.

Guia sobre Economia Circular i Verda al món local

Guide to Circular and Green Economy in the local world: How to get into action and tools for local entities

Guide to Circular and Green Economy in the local world: How to get into action and tools for local entities.

Type:

Author: 
Xarxa de Ciutats i Pobles cap a la Sostenibilitat (Network for Cities and Towns towards Sustainability in Catalonia (Spain))
Publication Date: 
06/2018
Country: 
Spain

Language for original content:

The "Guide to Circular and Green Economy in the local world" was published as part of the 2016-2019 Business and Green Economy Economy Plan for Local authorities promoted by the Network of Cities and Peoples towards Sustainability. This guide is based on the experience of its authors as well as municipalities participating in the Workshops organised as part of the same Plan collaboration of the Generalitat of Catalonia. The respective contributions of the Business and Green Economy Plan working group channel important challenges and successes in promoting the circular economy by local authorites throughout this document.

The aim of the guide is to disseminate the circular economy concept and provide acitonable suggestions to local authorities (politicians, civil servants) in order to promote circular economy at different levels of governance, where the scope is both mainstreaming within public administration as well as private sector buy-in.

The guide first presents the concept of circular economy, strategies for implementation and the local authorities can play in this transition. The second part presents the steps a local entity can follow to define a strategy to boost the circular and green economy in its area. The guide also includes a workbook that with tools and materials to put into practice such a strategy and facilitate the transition to a circular economy.

13 Sep 2018

The European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre will hold a workshop on "Resource efficiency in the tourism sector" in Sofia, BG on September 13th to enable knowledge exchange on sustainable tourism practices and programmes and encourage the transition to resource efficient business pracitces.

Birmingham is working to reduce emissions and waste through Industrial Symbiosis

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
United Kingdom

Language for original content:

Key Area:

Scope:

Birmingham is Britain’s youngest and fastest growing city, boasting the highest quality of life of any English city outside London. The city also has the strongest economy outside the capital and is one of the first cities to adopt a proactive industrial symbiosis approach to develop a medium and long-term strategy for sustainable economic development. Often described as ‘the circular economy in action’, the projects born from the industrial symbiosis approach are part of Birmingham’s circular economy strategy.

Pages