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...

    Circular Economy: Measuring innovation in product chains

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    José Potting, Marko Hekkert, Ernst Worrell, Aldert Hanemaaijer

    Source: 

    PBL

    Year: 

    2016

    This Dutch study aims to explore how the transition to a circular economy can be measured in the production chain and focuses on asking relevant policy questions for plastic packaging (bottles and other plastic packaging) and electrical devices (washing machines and dryers, and fridges and freezers). However, it does not provide corresponding indicators.

    Three types of CE-transitions are identified:
    • CE-transitions that place the development of a specific, radical new technology central
    • CE-transitions that place socio-economic change central
    • CE-transitions...

    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...

    Circular economy: a commentary from the perspectives of the natural and social sciences

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    European Academies Science Advisory Council

    Source: 

    EASAC

    Year: 

    2015

    This commentary by the EASAC primarily examines the proposed benefits and potential enabling policies of the circular economy. A broad range of sources is used to recognize gaps and inadequacies in proposed benefits and policies in order to foster a substantial discussion among stakeholders as to how to proceed in the transition process. The study also examines barriers and indicators and comments on their nature and efficacy respectively. Furthermore, the commentary provides advice regarding avoidance of barriers and the use of proper indicators.

    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...

    A review on circular economy: the expected transition to a balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Patrizia Ghisellini, Catia Cialani, Sergio Ulgiati

    Source: 

    University of Bologna, Dalarna University, Parthenope Universtiy of Naples, Beijing Normal Unversity

    Year: 

    2016

    "This study provides an extensive review of the literature of last two decades, with the purpose of grasping the main CE features and perspectives: origins, basic principles, advantages and disadvantages, modelling and implementation of CE at the different levels (micro, meso and macro) worldwide." (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652615012287)

    Diversifying and de-growing the circular economy: Radical social transformation in a resource-scarce world

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Kersty Hobson, Nicholas Lynch

    Source: 

    Cardiff University, The University of Oxford

    Year: 

    2016

    "Programmes and policies for a Circular Economy (CE) are fast becoming key to regional and international plans for creating sustainable futures. Framed as a technologically driven and economically profitable vision of continued growth in a resource scarce world, the CE has of late been taken up by the European Commission and global business leaders alike. However, within CE debates and documentation, little is said about the social and political implications of such transformative agendas. Whilst CE proponents claim their agenda is ‘radical’, this paper outlines its inability to address...

    Circular Advantage: Innovative Business Models and Technologies to Create Value in a World without Limits to Growth

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Accenture

    Source: 

    Accenture

    Year: 

    2014

    This report mainly focuses on the question what companies can do to become more circular, and why it is in their best interest to do so. To this end, it among others discusses several business models, disruptive technologies and capabilities.

    Business Model Innovation in a Circular Economy Reasons for Non-Acceptance of Circular Business Models

    Type of evidence: 

    Author names: 

    Patrick Planing

    Source: 

    Hochschule Pforzheim University

    Year: 

    2016

    "The overall aim of this paper is to develop a new conceptual framework for business model innovation in a circular economy and to explore the reasons for consumer non-adoption of business models in this context." (p. 1)

    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...

    Inspire

    Type of evidence: 

    Year: 

    2017

    The INSPIRE project will develop innovative business models for a selection of complementary sectors that will create flexible networks based on intensified processing enabling more local production in Europe and reverse the delocalisation trends. This will be possible thanks to a clear identification of research and business (including SMEs) needs, followed by the deployment of routes (roadmap) and guideline targeting to measure and assess the performance of such novel models under different possible scenarios under a cost effective and sustainable perspective.

    MAESTRI

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Spire2030

    Year: 

    2017

    The MAESTRI project aims to advance the sustainability of European manufacturing and process industries. This is done by providing a management system in the form of a flexible and scalable platform, and to guide and simplify the implementation of an innovative approach, the Total Efficiency Framework. The overall aim of this framework is to encourage a culture of improvement within process industries by assisting the decision-making process, supporting the development of improvement strategies and helping define the priorities to improve the company's environmental and economic...

    MEASURE

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Spire2030

    Year: 

    2015

    The Horizon 2020 SPIRE Public Private Partnership goals of the European Commission have set a new challenge for the European process industry. Aiming for a green economy being energy and resource efficient, but also internationally competitive and socially responsible, cross-sectorial cooperation along the value chain is strongly encouraged. The vision of industrial symbioses also forces practitioners in sustainability assessment to rethink their often sector-specific toolboxes. Consequently, current methods for sustainability assessment including in-depth life cycle based methods may need...

    RECOBA

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Spire2030

    Year: 

    2015

    All companies of the European process industry are facing the same challenges: on the one hand product quality has to be improved and at the same time production costs have to be decreased to be competitive on the world market. On the other hand the resource and energy efficiency of products and processes has to be improved to lower their ecological footprint. This is independent of the industrial sector, it is true for the cement industry as well as for the food or copper industry. That means, these are cross-sectorial challenges! The development of new production technologies could be...

    SAMT

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Spire2030

    Year: 

    2015

    The SAMT project (2015-2016) has now reached completion. The project focused on increasing integration of sustainability assessment methods in decision making by reviewing and making recommendations about the most potential methods, tools, and indicators for evaluating sustainability in the process industry. Final results from the SAMT project include a roadmap and an implementation plan towards the SAMT vision 2030 built together with industry and research organisations: "Sustainability assessment provides additional value for industrial decision-making. Related methods are widely...

    SHAREBOX

    Type of evidence: 

    Year: 

    2017

    Resource efficiency offers a major economic opportunities for the European Process Industry, both in terms of cost savings as well as opportunities to offer greener products and services. Industrial Symbiosis (IS) is the use by one company or sector of by-products, including energy, water, logistics and materials, from another. The approach that underpins SHAREBOX centres on logical work flow that covers from the identification of new symbiotic synergies right through optimised connections among companies and organisations in established symbiotic relationships. SHAREBOX will provide plant...

    STYLE

    Type of evidence: 

    Source: 

    Spire2030

    Year: 

    2015

    Public and private sector funding is regularly invested to develop new technologies and/or modify processes/products to bring resource and energy efficiency improvements. However, in order for EU stakeholders and industry to see the true value of these new technologies and modifica-tions, and make informed decisions surrounding their adoption, a consistent approach is needed to assess the sustainability impact across the full value chain. This is particularly challenging when it comes to assessing sustainability across sector boundaries, or in a data lean environment. For many years, the...

    SYMBIOPTIMA

    Type of evidence: 

    Year: 

    2017

    SYMBIOPTIMA is an H2020 project funded under the SPIRE-6 action. The project proposes a completely new paradigm for industrial clusters: the human-mimetic symbiosis. Drawing inspiration from one of the most complex biological organism, namely the human body, it promotes the mutual interaction of diverse industries, also among different sectors, for beneficial reuse of flows (e.g. water, waste, by-products, energy, recycled materials) that could result in a more resource-efficient production at network level, and in fewer adverse environmental impacts. Synergy and optimization of the flows...

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