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.
Almut Reichel, Mieke De Schoenmakere, Jeroen Gillabel
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...
José Potting, Marko Hekkert, Ernst Worrell, Aldert Hanemaaijer
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
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...
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.
Roberto Zoboli, Susanna Paleari, Giovanni Marin, Massimiliano Mazzanti, Francesco Nicolli, Anna Montini, Valeria Miceli, Stefan Speck
This report wants to contribute to a better understanding of the green economy and all the major forces and policies involved. It predominantly focuses on improving resource efficiency from a macro-economic perspective, for which eco-innovation is a primary enabling factor. However, the spread of technologies derived from eco-innovation often is obstructed by several barriers, such as finance, knowledge, costs, markets etc. Fiscal reforms, like environmental taxes and emission trading schemes are also crucial major enabling factors, but to what extent depends on their design (rebound...
INSPIREWATER is an EU funded project which will enable process industry companies to implement sustainable water treatment solutions as part of a corporate sustainability strategy. This will be achieved via the development, demonstration and exploitation of innovative, eco-efficient technologies which will support sustainable water resources management. INSPIREWATER technologies will increase water and resource efficiency by 20-30% in the process industry. The project will focus initially on the steel and chemical industries, with the long-term goal of applying the technologies across...
RETRACE aims at promoting systemic design as a method allowing local and regional policies move towards a circular economy when waste from one productive process becomes input in another, preventing waste being released into the environment. RETRACE addresses the EU challenge of transitioning towards a Circular Economy following the priorities set up by the "Flagship Initiative for a Resource-efficient Europe" for a shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy to achieve sustainable growth as enshrined in Europe 2020 strategy and the EC Communication "Towards a circular economy:...
The aim of INTHERWASTE is to have European Heritage Cities exchange experiences and policies for efficient and sustainable management of municipal waste and in order to contribute through mutual capacity-building, policy learning and drafting action plans - to the environmental performance of waste management in EU cities.The capacity of the staff of involved authorities to design and implement policies and measures in the waste field and governance in the same field are expected to be improved, too. Solutions and policies proved feasible in INTHERWASTE are believed to be transferable to...
"This report explores the circular economy from a product perspective, applying a systemic approach and transition theory. Drivers of product design and usage are discussed in the context of emerging consumption trends and business models. For governance to be effective, it has to address the product life-cycle and the societal context determining it. Indicators and assessment tools will be needed to fill the current data and knowledge gaps." (p. 6)
The article seeks to define the concept of Product Service Systems (PSS) and then explain its economic, environmental, and other real world impacts. The main purpose of the piece is to explain these concepts through describing the application of the PSS to a real world scenario in the manufacturing sector in the UK
Construction accounts for 50% of all extracted material use in the EU. The European Commission calls for a further strengthening of resource efficiency in buildings and construction by considering the lifetime costs of a building rather than just the initial costs and also better infrastructure planning. They have set the 2020 milestone to have the majority of rennovation and constuction standards to be of high efficiency standards.
Zhi Sun, Yanping Xiao, Hanneke Agterhuis, Jilt Sietsma, Yongxiang Yang
Journal of Cleaner Production
Urban mining has attracted increasing attention as a research topic, owing to the high growth rate, environmental issues, and market potential of waste generated in urban areas. Metal recovery from such waste has become increasingly important especially in accordance with the concept of metal criticality. This study develops a model by evaluating various types of urban waste in order to understand the criticality of these waste streams and determine their potential for metal recovery. Two factors, i.e. the resource index and technology index, are defined and assessed through a systematic...
Koen Binnemans, Peter Tom Jones, Bart Blanpain, Tom Van Gerven, Yongxiang Yang, Allan Walton, Matt-hias Buchert
Journal of Cleaner Production
The rare-earth elements (REEs) are becoming increasingly important in the transition to a green economy, due to their essential role in permanent magnets, lamp phosphors, catalysts, rechargeable batteries etc. With China presently producing more than 90% of the global REE output and its increasingly tight export quota, the rest of the world is confronted with a REE supply risk. Mining companies are now actively seeking new exploitable REE deposits while some old mines are being reopened. Because of the absence of economical and/or operational primary deposits on their territory, many...
Megan P. O'Connor, Julie B. Zimmerman, Paul T. Anastas, and Desiree L. Plata
ACS Sustainable Che. Eng.
Rapid innovation in the field of electronic technologies through the use of rare earth and specialty elements (RESE) has made the electronics industry one of the most rapidly evolving industries to date. However, innovations to har-vest these same materials from complex waste streams have not kept pace, thus leading to an unsustainable material supply chain reliant on the mining of increasingly difficult-to-extract ores. Here, we aim to provide a strategy to mitigate these challenges, identifying the technical research and development needed to further sustainable electronics through Green...
The issues associated with the supply of rare-earth metals are a vivid reminder to all of us that natural resources are limited. Japan's Element Strategy Initiative is a good example of a long-term strategy towards the sustainable use of scarce elements.
"Although most bioenergy is produced by burning agricultural and forestry biomass, it is also generated by burning the organic parts of municipal solid waste, biowaste or urban biomass. This includes food waste from restaurants, households, farmers markets, gardens, textiles, clothing, paper and other materials of organic origin. But have you ever tried to fuel a bonfire with a salad? Probably not, so this may not be the most efficient use of urban biowaste." (https://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/...
"Europe is on the move to become a ‘circular economy’ which is more competitive and resource efficient. The goal is a more circular flow of materials and energy so that Europeans use and consume in a way that creates minimal waste and puts less pressure on natural resources on this continent and other parts of the world. Sounds like a common sense plan…right? Yes, but one important question arises. Why isn’t the Commission including different types of biomass (biological material) as part of the circular economy equation?" (...
"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...
BirdLife International, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Transport & Environment (T&E)
"With the launch of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in 2009, Europe’s demand for biofuels has skyrocketed. To meet this new demand, the global production of biofuels has also increased significantly. In fact, did you know that every car in Europe uses a blend of biofuels? That’s how common this product has become. Biofuels use vegetable oils, cereals, sugars and waste fats – mainly extracted from rapeseed, soy, palm trees, corn and wheat – to create energy. Because biofuels are derived from plant products, any increase or decrease in their use has a direct impact on agriculture...