Library

The library contains a wealth of information on the circular economy for use by policy makers and analysts conducting impact assessments. For more information on impact assessments and the EU's Better Regulation Agenda, please click here.

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    Circular economy in Europe: Developing the knowledge base

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Almut Reichel, Mieke De Schoenmakere, Jeroen Gillabel

    Source: 

    EEA

    Year: 

    2016

    This report seeks to help policy makers to better understand the circular economy, by focusing on four of its dimensions; the main enabling factors and transition challenges, indicators for measuring progress and contextual issues. One of the main conclusions regarding the monitoring of progress is that for now the focus is on developments in resource efficiency and waste management, which covers a part, but not the whole, of the circular economy. More data is needed on eco-design, the sharing economy, and repair and reuse. Furthermore, social indicators, industrial symbiosis indicators...

    Delivering the circular economy - a toolkit for policymakers

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Andrew Morlet et al.

    Source: 

    Ellen MacArthur Foundation

    Year: 

    2016

    This report wants to provide countries and their policy makers who are interested in a transition to the circular economy with a toolkit. To test this toolkit, a case study was performed for Denmark. It focused on opportunities in several sectors; food and beverage, construction and real estate, machinery, plastic packaging and hospitals. Eight important conclusions were drawn:

    • The transition to a circular economy can deliver the expected lasting benefits of a more innovative, resilient and productive economy.
    • The circular economy provides many opportunities that are...

    Growth within: A circular economy vision for a competitive Europe

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Ellen MacArthur et al.

    Source: 

    Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment (sponsered by Stiftungsfonds für Umweltökonomie)

    Year: 

    2015

    This report seeks to answer five questions:

    1. Is Europe’s current resource model effective?
    2. Will the technology revolution solve Europe’s resource issues?
    3. What would a circular economy in Europe look like?
    4. What economic outcomes could a circular model achieve in Europe?
    5. If Europe decided to shift towards a circular model, how could policy-makers and business leaders accelerate the transition?

    Three of Europe’s most resource-intensive basic needs are discussed; food, mobility and the built environment, all together comprising 60% of...

    A Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

    Source: 

    Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

    Year: 

    2016

    This program explores the challenges and possibilities for realizing a circular economy by 2050 in the Netherlands. Both current and follow-up steps are identified for this purpose. The following barriers for the transition to a circular economy are mentioned: regulations, the non-internalisation of external effects, the lack of knowledge for technical, social and system innovation, non-circular behaviour of citizens and professionals, adaptation problems in the production chain, consolidated investments and interests, limited influence in the international playing field. The Dutch...

    Advancing Resource Efficiency in Europe: Indicators and waste policy scenarios to deliver a resource efficient and sustainable Europe

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Dr. Jane Beasley, Ray Georgeson

    Source: 

    European Environmental Bureau

    Year: 

    2014

    The EEB’s report utilized a baseline scenario created by projections related to existing waste policy. They expanded upon this baseline by proposing policy adjustments in the form of new formulations and altered target setting, which they conclude could result in substantial positive environmental, social, and economic impacts. The report also emphasizes a strong belief in the success of in-creased regulatory policy moving forward.

    Regulatory barriers for the Circular Economy: Lessons from ten case studies

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Joost van Barneveld et al.

    Source: 

    Technopolis Group, Fraunhofer ISI, thinkstep, Wuppertal Institute

    Year: 

    2016

    This report takes a look at several circular economy practices and identifies regulatory barriers that obstruct their full potential. Subsequently, recommendations are provided on how to overcome these barriers.

    Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Paul Ekins, Nick Hughes et al.

    Source: 

    International Resource Panel

    Year: 

    2017

    "This report examines the potential for increasing resource efficiency in industrialized countries, including the G7, emerging economies and developing countries. It focuses on the use of natural resources and the environment, including energy, land, water, raw materials: biotic and abiotic, marine and freshwater, oceanic and terrestrial. The evidence base includes the recent and ongoing work of the International Resource Panel, as well as that of a number of international organizations that have addressed this issue. The report also seeks to identify transboundary effects and discusses...

    The opportunities to business of improving resource efficiency

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Bio Intelligence Service, AMEC

    Year: 

    2013

    "This study forms part of the Commission's on-going analysis of the opportunities to be gained from improving resource efficiency and how best to help business realise the potential economic, as well as environmental and social benefit." (Executive Summary)

    Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    The High Level Panel Experts on Food Security and Nutrition

    Source: 

    Year: 

    2014

    "The issue of global food losses and waste has recently received much attention and has been given high visibility. According to FAO, almost one-third of food produced for human consumption – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes per year – is either lost or wasted globally: their reduction is now presented as essential to improve food security and to reduce the environmental footprint of food systems. In this context, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), in its Thirty-ninth Session (October 2012) requested the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) to...

    Achieving 'Growth Within'

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Jocelyn Blériot et al.

    Source: 

    Ellen MacArthur Foundation, SYSTEMIQ

    Year: 

    2017

    "An additional €320 billion of circular economy investment opportunities is available to investors in the European Union (EU) until 2025 that can be unlocked through modest action by policy makers or industry. This investment would put the EU on the path to seize the economic, societal, and environmental benefits of the transition to a circular economy and mitigate the mounting risks that reside in conventional industrial assets in an era of rapid change." (p. 10)

    Towards the Circular Economy Vol. 2: opportunities for the consumer goods sector

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Ellen MacArthur Foundation

    Year: 

    2013

    "The report focuses on fast-moving consumer goods, which currently accounts for about 60 per cent of total consumer spending, 35 per cent of material inputs into the economy, and 75 per cent of municipal waste. Importantly, the consumer goods sector absorbs more than 90 per cent of our agricultural output - possibly our most embattled resource in the future." (https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/towards-the-circul...)

    The Circular Economy: A review of definitions, processes and impacts

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Vasileios Rizos, Katja Tuokko, Arno Behrens

    Source: 

    CEPS

    Year: 

    2017

    Transforming the linear economy, which has remained the dominant model since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, into a circular one is by no means an easy task. Such a radical change entails a major transformation of our current production and consumption patterns, which in turn will have a significant impact on the economy, the environment and society. Understanding these impacts is crucial for researchers as well as for policy-makers engaged in designing future policies in the field. This requires developing an in-depth knowledge of the concept of the circular economy, its processes...

    SteamBio

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Spire2030

    Year: 

    2015

    SteamBio is an industry-research partnership supported by the EC Horizon 2020 Programme and SPIRE public private partnership, launched on 1st February 2015. SteamBio will demonstrate in fields and forests an innovative mobile superheated steam process. This process will convert agro-forestry residues into stable feedstock for biochemical and bioenergy uses. SteamBio involves the development of decentralised business models to enable widespread flexible deployment in rural areas across Europe. The successful project will create local jobs and generate local wealth. It will also contribute...

    Resource efficiency in practice - Closing mineral cycles

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Marion Sarteel et al.

    Year: 

    2016

    "The issue of closing mineral cycles was analyzed in eight European regions and the results are presented in the report "Resource Efficiency in Practice – Closing Mineral Cycles". The authors of BIO IS, Ecologic Institute, AMEC, Danish Technical University, University of Milano and LEI, identified measures that support the closing of mineral cycles within the study regions. For each region, practical and strategic options to reduce the nutrient surplus further were derived." (http://ecologic.eu/14069)

    Risks and Opportunities in the Global Phosphate Rock Market

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Marjolein de Ridder, Sijbren de Jong, Joshua Polchar, Stephanie Lingemann

    Source: 

    HCSS

    Year: 

    2012

    "The report aims primarily to raise awareness within Europe that the EU is almost entirely dependent on imported phosphate rock from the rest of the world and consequently vulnerable to disruptions in the supply of this important commodity. This means that the European food security and agricultural sector are at risk. The report formulates several perspectives for action on how the EU could deal with developments on the phosphate rock market and reduce its vulnerability to potential shocks." (p. 18)

    Urban Biocycles

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Andrew Morlet, Dale Walker, Nick Jeffries, Aurélien Susnjara, Sarah Churchill-Slough, Lena Gravis, Ian Banks

    Source: 

    Ellen MacArthur Foundation

    Year: 

    2017

    "This scoping paper focuses on the potential of the significant volume of organic waste flowing through the urban environment. The aim is to highlight the opportunities to capture value, in the form of the energy, nutrients and materials embedded in these flows, through the application of circular economy principles. Organic waste - from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste streams and wastewater that flows through sewage systems - is traditionally seen as a costly problem in economic and environmental terms. This scoping paper will explore the idea that the equation can be...

    Water2REturn

    Type of evidence: 

    Year: 

    2017

    "Water2REturn proposes a full-scale demonstration process for integrated nutrients recovery from wastewater from the slaughterhouse industry using biochemical and physical technologies and a positive balance in energy footprint. The project will not only produce a nitrates and phosphate concentrate available for use as organic fertiliser in agriculture, but its novelty rests on the use of an innovative fermentative process designed for sludge valorisation which results in a hydrolysed sludge (with a multiplied Biomethane Potential) and biostimultants products, with low development costs...

    Cascading use of biomass: opportunities and obstacles in EU policies

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Sini Eräjää

    Source: 

    BirdLife and European Environmental Bureau

    Year: 

    2015

    BirdLife Europe has been intensively working to highlight the environmental risks of using crops grown on agricultural land for fuel instead of food, resulting in significant emissions from indirect land use change (ILUC). This work resulted in the EU to limit the use of food based biofuels in the transport sector.  

    The effect of bioenergy expansion: Food, energy, and environment

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    J. Popp, Z.Lakner, M.Harangi-Rákos, M.Fári

    Source: 

    Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews

    Year: 

    2014

    "The increasing prices and environmental impacts of fossil fuels have made the production of biofuels to reach unprecedented volumes over the last 15 years. Given the increasing land requirement for biofuel production, the assessment of the impacts that extensive biofuel production may cause to food supply and to the environment has considerable importance. Agriculture faces some major inter-connected challenges in delivering food security at a time of increasing pressures from population growth, changing consumption patterns and dietary preferences, and post-harvest losses. At the same...

    Ensuring bioenergy comes clean in the Clean Energy Package

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Sini Eräjää, Hanna Aho, Laura Buffet

    Source: 

    BirdLife Europe, Fern, Transport & Environment

    Year: 

    2017

    "European climate and energy policies are built on the myth that all bioenergy - being a renewable energy source - is good for the climate and good for the environment. As the use of bioenergy in the EU is expected to more than double by 2020 compared to 2005, it's becoming clear that bioenergy is not the clean dream we all hoped it would be. In some cases it can even increase CO2 emissions (compared to fossil fuels) and in numerous instances it threatens nature by putting additional pressure on already burdened agricultural land and forests. As the demand for bioenergy grows (pushed by...

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