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The Circular Economy - Challenges, Opportunities and Pathways for European Businesses

The circular economy is expected to become one of the greatest societal and economical disruptors of our time. The linear model representing the way we manufacture and consume already represents an important constraint to society and the economy, and may become obsolete and potentially detrimental to European businesses in the not-so-far future, due to a combination of factors related, inter alia, to virgin resources’ depletion and climate change. This is why action is needed to understand the factors leading to this inefficiency, and create constructive strategies that support competitiveness, as well as social and economic resilience and prosperity. The analysis is an EUROCHAMBRES initiative launched in order to better understand if and how the circular economy will benefit European businesses, and to delineate a successful transition. This will be the basis for a policy strategy elaborated to contribute to an enriching debate on future legislative proposals at European level.

Accelerating the Transition to the Circular Economy – Improving access to finance for circular economy project

The European Commission released a report aiming at helping the transition from a linear to a circular economy by improving the conditions for financing circular economy projects. The report includes recommandation for key stakeholders: financial institutions, project promoters and policy makers.

Explanation Brief | Let’s help SMEs to go circular - DG Environment project

Since adopting the Circular Economy Package, the Commission has observed an increased uptake in corporations of resource efficiency, eco-innovation and/or circular economy strategies and practices. Nevertheless, SMEs are experiencing more difficulties in adopting such strategies and practices. In response to this difficulty, part of the "Let’s help SMEs to go circular" project has focused on training and helping 15 SME support organisations (e.g. chambers of commerce, sector associations) to establish a circular economy programme.  This booklet has been drafted as background and reference materials for such training sessions. It gives an overview of the training modules and topics involved in a two-day training session. You can learn more about the project here.     

The Digital Circular Economy: Can the Digital Transformation Pave the Way for Resource-Efficient Materials Cycles?

Despite the recent interest in a circular economy, recycled materials are being fed back into production processes at volumes that are far below what is possible. If this system were to be improved, loss of value, dependence on volatile commodity markets, lower resource productivity, and externalities in the form of environmental pollution could be avoided. A drive towards digitalisation in industry and the waste management sector could make this happen.
Attachment: Read the report

Resource efficiency 4.0 : Digitalisation as a tool for Resource efficiency | EFA+ Publication

The attached report by Effizienz Agentur NRW gives a broad yet succint overview of the topic of digitization and resource management.

Resource efficiency through remanufacturing | VDI ZRE Publication

The brief analyses of VDI ZRE provide an overview of current developments related to resource efficiency in research and industrial practice. They each contain a compilation of relevant research results, new technologies and processes as well as examples of good practice. The brief analyses thus provide a broad audience from business, research and administration with an introduction to selected areas of resource efficiency.
Attachment: Read the brief

Ecodesign for a resource-efficient economy

This brochure explains why companies and designers care about ecodesign, what ecodesign is and how it works in practice. It contains numerous examples and helpful cross-references to methods and tools, information sources, framework conditions and funding instruments. Companies that are interested in ecodesign but do not yet implement it are given a sound preliminary overview and inspiration for further development. Companies that are already active in this field can compare their approach with that of other companies, receive suggestions on how they can further develop their own ecodesign strategies, and get information on the current status of framework conditions and practice.  

Product Design in a Circular Economy | Development of a Typology of Key Concepts and Terms

In a circular economy (CE), the economic and environmental value of materials is preserved for as long as possible by keeping them in the economic system, either by lengthening the life of the products formed from them or by looping them back in the system to be reused. The notion of waste no longer exists in a CE, because products and materials are, in principle, reused and cycled indefinitely. Taking this description as a starting point, the article asks which guiding principles, design strategies, and methods are required for circular product design and to what extent these differ from the principles, strategies, and methods of eco-design. The article argues that there is a fundamental distinction to be made between eco-design and circular product design and proceeds to develop, based on an extensive literature review, a set of new concepts and definitions, starting from a redefinition of product lifetime and introducing new terms such as presource and recovery horizon.The article then takes Walter Stahel’s Inertia Principle as the guiding principle in circular product design and develops a typology of approaches for Design for Product Integrity, with a focus on tangible durable consumer products. The newly developed typology contributes to a deeper understanding of the CE as a concept and informs the discussion on the role of product design in a CE.      

Case studies and policy lessons from EU Member States for a product policy framework that contributes to a circular economy | Eco-Innovation...

This report focuses on the contribution of product eco-innovation towards a circular economy transition in the EU. It aims to provide an overview of illustrative good practices and trends of product eco-innovations that contribute to the circular economy as well as sustainable product policy experiences in Member States, in order to draw lessons for EU level policies. A special feature highlights new findings and trends regarding eco-innovation performance in Member States (the 2018 Eco-Innovation Scoreboard). This report is intended for EU and national policy makers, researchers, NGOs, and other stakeholders such as the private sector and consumers. Key questions include: How does product eco-innovation relate to the circular economy? What is the policy context and who are the key actors? What is the state of product related eco-innovation and circular economy developments across the EU, and what are the trends? How can product eco-innovation toward a circular economy be measured and monitored? What is happening “on the ground” / what are the good business practices? How do EU product policy instruments link to promoting a circular economy in the EU, what is needed to further scale-up eco-innovation efforts and what are the good policy practices from Member States? What are the key findings and policy messages?  
Attachment: Go to report

Remanufacturing and Product Design - Designing for the 7th Generation

Remanufacture returns a used product to like-new condition; it is a process of recapturing the value added to the material when a product was first manufactured. Remanufacture results in reduced energy and material use, and production cost reductions. In the context of drivers such as the Landfill Directive, the revenue that remanufacture generates from ‘waste’ coupled with environmental advantages place the process as potentially a major contributor to Sustainable Development (SD) and movements towards a Factor 4 society. The 2004 Oakdene Hollins Ltd (OHL) report “Remanufacturing in the UK: a significant contributor to sustainable development?” provides a detailed evaluation of the state of the UK remanufacturing industry and identified future opportunities for remanufacture, highlighting that remanufacture can lead to a reduction in carbon emissions. This report studies the links between design and remanufacture and builds on elements of the OHL report and contributions to elements of analysis by OHL, by further investigating Design for Remanufacture in terms of both detailed product design and business context.
Attachment: Report PDF

Green Action Plan for SMEs - implementation report

The European Union Green Action Plan for SMEs introduced in 2014 brings together two important priorities for the European economy: supporting SMEs and promoting resourceefficiency. It aims “to contribute to the re-industrialisation of Europe... by enhancing SMEscompetitiveness and supporting green business developments across all European regions, notably in view of the fact that, at this stage, significant differences in resource efficiency exist between sectors and Member States”. The Green Action Plan (GAP) sets out a series of objectives and lists actions that will be implemented at European level within the framework of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. All the actions are either new or revised versions of previous actions that now take into account the potential for business of resource efficiency and access to green markets.

Circular Policy Action Brief

This report aims at understanding the current landscape of circular policy in the European Union, while delving more in details at the Member State level. It also looks at India and China. The report also shows the impact of these policies on circular business models and selected sectors. It will be updated bi-annually to ensure accuracy. The report constitutes the first phase of World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Policy and Engagement workstream, which final aim is to develop forward-looking policy recommendations that help spur circular economy actions. This workstream is part of WBCSD’s Factor10 program on the circular economy.