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.