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The circular economy as EU environmental policy – Changing or maintaining the status quo?

The circular economy as EU environmental policy – Changing or maintaining the status quo?

The circular economy as EU environmental policy – Changing or maintaining the status quo?

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.

Three narratives about food waste and their social impact

France's Law Against Food Waste: do new narratives serve social justice?

Three narratives about food waste and their social impact
Policy Brief
Author: 
Sina Leipold, Kaja Weldner, Marius Hohl
Publication Date: 
12/2021
Country: 
Germany

Language for original content:

Scope:

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).

Full research article

Healthy diets save more resources than food waste reduction

Healthy diets save more resources than food waste reduction

Healthy diets save more resources than food waste reduction

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.

Environmental assessments should focus on the needs of circular cities

Environmental assessments should focus on the needs of circular cities to support the transition to a sustainable circular economy

Environmental assessments should focus on the needs of circular cities

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.

Why the Packaging Act contributes little to the Circular Economy

Why the German Packaging Act contributes little to the Circular Economy

Why the German Packaging Act contributes little to the Circular Economy
Policy Brief
Author: 
Machteld Simoens, Sina Leipold
Publication Date: 
06/2020
Country: 
Germany

Language for original content:

Scope:

Many political, business and civil society stakeholders are disappointed with the German Packaging Act. They feel it makes a comparatively small contribution to the circular economy. This study explains why they are disappointed:

  • Policy-making became entangled in disputes between proponents of a private and a public system for waste collection. Stakeholder fears of potential radical changes led to a stalemate
  • Fears allowed only incremental changes in the Packaging Act
  • The incremental changes could not resolve existing conflicts.

Based on its findings, the paper proposes possible courses of action. To create a shift to a circular economy, dialogue is needed using methods which explicitly address fears and overcome the current stalemate.

12 Apr 2022
4th OECD Roundtable on the Circular Economy in Cities and Regions

The 4th OECD Roundtable on the Circular Economy in Cities and Regions will bring together key stakeholders from cities, regions, national governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, philanthropy and international organisations on 12 April 2022.

A Blueprint on Industrial Symbiosis to achieve a circular and regenerative economy

INSIGHT logo

Under the framework of the INSIGHT project, a Blueprint has been developed to provide specific recommendations on how to promote the application of Industrial Symbiosis and its facilitation to various stakeholders, as well as a roadmap of how the organisations are expected to apply the IS principles, by making use of educational specific inputs and resources.

The Power of Circular economy hubs 2021

Start/End date: 
29/03/2022
Country: 
EU
City: 
Brussels

Coordination Group activity type:

Abstract: 

This Reflection paper of the ECESP Leadership Group on Network governance and circular economy hubs draws on the lessons learned when a group of ECESP Coordination Group members focused on road-mapping processes in various countries. The key to success is making the networks work, making them actionable, with a focus on network governance and the role of individual circular economy hubs. 

06 Apr 2022
Institutional Arrangements for the Circular Economy and the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

Event type:

City: 
Online
Country: 
Switzerland

Key Area:

At this side event of the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, to take place on 6 April at 17:15 CEST, government officials and other stakeholders will discuss how to facilitate coordination between government institutions and share good practices on administrative requirements for policy making in the circular economy context. 

15 Jun 2022
EuRIC

After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19, EuRIC is delighted to announce that the European Recycling Conference is back and will take place on 14-15 June 2022 at IFEMA in Madrid.

The 4th conference will offer unique networking opportunities, brief participants on the latest regulatory and business developments and be part of the International Recycling and Recovery Trade Fair in Madrid which attracts over 10 000 visitors and 200 exhibition stands. The event will bring together top-level executives from companies, federation leaders and officials from EU institutions.

29 Apr 2022
CCRI

The CCRI aims to support Europe’s green transition by boosting circularity at local and regional level. The objective of this call is to select a group of cities, regions or territorial clusters to become the CCRI Pilot Group, which will bring together cities, regions or territorial clusters with a high potential for development in the field of the circular economy.

07 Apr 2022
Rreuse logo

RREUSE is excited to invite you to its forthcoming webinar discussing a burning question: Who should finance re-use policies?

Taking place on 7 April, the event aims to provide an opportunity for the exchange of good practices between members of the RREUSE network, policymakers, local authority representatives, and waste management and prevention experts. After a showcase of good practices from the RREUSE network, the audience will be invited to brainstorm on the most efficient way for re-use policies to be financed.

 

27 Jun 2022 to 29 Jun 2022
3rd Symposium on Circular Economy and Sustainability

The 3rd Symposium on Circular Economy and Sustainability will take place in Chania, Greece on 27-29 June 2022. Researchers, practitioners and entrepreneurs are invited to submit both empirical and theoretical papers that are broadly consistent with any of the topics covered by the Symposium.

Building a Circular Future; Ten Takeaways for Global Changemakers

Building a circular future: Ten takeaways for global changemakers

Building a circular future; Ten takeaways for global changemakers

This book provides answers on how to govern the transition to a circular economy in different socio-cultural and political contexts.

It is intended to help the global changemakers who are building our circular future. Author Jacqueline Cramer spoke with 20 representatives of circular hotspots worldwide, thoroughly analysed their different contexts and extracted 10 key takeaways. Everyone working on circular initiatives can use these and adapt them to their own socio-cultural and political contexts.

How Network Governance Powers the Circular Economy Ten Guiding Principles for Building a Circular Economy, Based on Dutch Experiences

How network governance powers the circular economy: Ten guiding principles for building a circular economy, based on Dutch experiences

How network governance powers the circular economy

In this book, Jacqueline Cramer shows how network governance can power the circular economy. Network governance is about building a coalition of partners, which all fulfill a specific function in the network and are aligned by so-called transition brokers. By complementing conventional, public governance with this new form of governance, the best of both worlds is created.

Prof. Cramer shares her huge experience of implementing numerous circular initiatives in the Netherlands. As a practitioner and scholar, she has identified ten guiding principles for building circular initiatives, based on network governance. These guidelines can support everyone who wants to start or expedite a circular initiative.

24 Mar 2022
Sitra

The circular economy has the potential to tackle the main drivers of biodiversity loss, including land-use change, climate change, overexploitation, and pollution, by transforming how we produce, consume and manage materials. During this official side-event on 24 March 2022 at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity negotiations, the role that a circular economy can play in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework through supporting sustainable use of biodiversity will be explored.

Lenka Homolka

Economic incentives: EPR Schemes and the European Green Deal: Challenges & Opportunities

Abstract: 

Extended Producer Responsibility Schemes (EPR) are increasingly used across Member States to finance proper waste management. The workshop discussed the take-aways, benefits but also shortcomings of EPR Schemes, in order to focus on the various areas of improvements. Particular emphasis was placed on the role played by eco-modulation of fees.

Textiles: EU Textiles Strategy and Sustainable Product Initiative: What would an ambitious textiles strategy look like?

Start/End date: 
02/03/2022
Country: 
EU
City: 
Brussels (online)

Discussed key areas:

Coordination Group activity type:

Abstract: 

At a moment when the EU stakeholders hold their breath for the EU Textiles strategy to be published, this workshop aims to give a final signal to the policy makers that a high level of ambition needs to be maintained in the upcoming proposal in order to create a watershed moment for the textile production and consumption, and more importantly for its global impact on the society and environment.

Circular Economy: Leveraging a Sustainable Transformation

Circular Economy: Leveraging a Sustainable Transformation

Nachhaltigkeitsrat

It has been established that the circular economy has a high leverage effect and some progress in this field has been made, but the circular economy has yet to top the political agenda. A strategic approach to circularity is urgently needed and should be developed, managed and implemented in a cross-ministerial capacity in line with efforts at EU level and together with partner nations.

Against this backdrop, the German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) recommends organising the transition to circularity via a new, cross-ministerial governance mechanism coordinated by the German Federal Chancellery. RNE’s statement covers a further 13 recommendations, ranging from the need for social safeguarding instruments to expanding education and research.

Cities and Regions: Accelerating system change for a circular transition in cities and regions

Abstract: 

The Cities & Regions Leadership Group in 2021 continued the work on the analysis of indicators to measure the transition to the circular economy in cities and regions.

This workshop capitalized on those discussion points, gearing the discussions towards the definition of operational cooperation leads between different initiatives supporting CE transition in cities and regions.

15 Feb 2022
EC

The European Commission is currently working on a revision of the Waste Framework Directive. This revision aims to improve the overall environmental outcome of waste management in line with the waste hierarchy and the implementation of the polluter pays principle. The call for evidence is open for feedback until 22 February 2022.

What can we learn from the Nordics about Circular Economy?

What can we learn from the Nordic countries about the circular economy?

The goal of the circular economy is to take full advantage of all available resources through reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling. The recent Nordic Circular Summit in Copenhagen covered topics from public administration programmes to innovative techniques and renewable practices in the marine and food industries.

What can we learn about the circular economy from the Nordic perspective? Find some answers in this position paper.

Sustainable Production and Consumption of Food. Mise-en-Place Circular Economy Policies and Waste Management Practices in Tourism Cities

Sustainable Production and Consumption of Food. Mise-en-Place Circular Economy Policies and Waste Management Practices in Tourism Cities

MDPI logo

Although previous researchers have explored the circular economy practices of different businesses in various contexts, only a few papers have focused on the sustainable preparation and consumption of food in the tourism and hospitality industry. This paper sheds light on case studies from hotels, restaurants and cafés that are located in urban tourism destinations.

This research suggests that catering businesses can implement a number of responsible initiatives by introducing preventive measures and recycling practices to curb food loss and the generation of waste. In conclusion, it finds that there is scope for regulatory authorities and policy makers to encourage hospitality practitioners to minimise food waste.

02 Mar 2022 to 04 Mar 2022
SmartProSys logo

The online symposium "Smart Process Systems Engineering 2022: Towards sustainable and circular production processes" on 2-4 March 2022 will cover both engineering and social sciences. You can register and submit an abstract for a flash presentation until 20 February.

11 Feb 2022
EU Industry Weeks

This local event, in the framework of #EU Industry Week 2022, is an exchange of good practices by European regions addressing circular economy incentives for SMEs through the Taxonomy regulation for the classification of economic activities with a substantial contribution to the transition towards the circular economy. It is targeted to regional government, policymakers, regional agencies, SMEs and their support organisations.

Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy 2022-2023 Living More, Using Less

Living More, Using Less: Ireland’s first national circular economy strategy

Living More, Using Less
Publication Date: 
12/2021
Country: 
Ireland

Language for original content:

Scope:

The Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy is Ireland’s first national circular economy strategy. The Strategy is a key addition to the Government’s drive to achieve a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to get on a path to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, as per commitments in the Programme for Government and the Climate Act 2021.

The Strategy explains what the circular economy is, why Ireland needs to deliver on a circular economy and how national policy will develop to support that goal. A circular economy can have positive environmental, economic and social impacts, such as reduced plastic pollution, new jobs and better quality, longer lasting consumer products.

01 Feb 2022
15 circular steps for cities

In this first series of webinars, representatives of the European Investment Bank (EIB) will introduce the newly launched Circular City Centre (C3). This is a competence and resource centre hosted within the EIB and developed with the support from the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Commission, in cooperation with Circle Economy.

C3 aims to support cities through sharing resources and practical information, providing circular city advisory and raising awareness about relevant financing and advisory opportunities for circular initiatives and projects.

The webinar series is aimed at city representatives and other stakeholders interested in fostering and accelerating the circular economy transition in cities, and is open to all who want to learn more about the different opportunities offered by the circular economy implemented in an urban context.

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