V Odmevih: Za nekoga odpadek, za drugega surovina

Odpadki kot surovine

Ladeja Godina Košir v Odmevih

Ladeja Godina Košir v Odmevih

V dnevni informativni oddaji Odmevi je Ladeja Godina Košir kot gostja voditeljice Tanje Gobec predstavila koncept krožnega gospodarstva v luči uporabe odpadkov kot surovin. Izpostavila je celovitost koncepta krožnega gospodarstva kot novega ekonomskega modela, pri katerem uporaba odpadnih materialov kot surovin predstavlja eno od pomembnih, ne pa tudi edino komponento. Predstavila je primere dobrih praks v Sloveniji – jeklarska, papirniška, kemijska industrija – kot tudi trende v Evropi. Platforma Circular Change z letošnjo 2. konferenco na temo krožnega gospodarstva pod naslovom “Walking the talk: Enabling circular transformation“, bo 11. in 12. maja v Ljubljani in Mariboru omogočila ustvarjanje novih poslovnih priložnosti v širšem mednarodnem prostoru. Linerani poslovni modeli, ki jih nadomeščajo krožni, so namreč ne le ekonomsko bolj učinkoviti, temveč tudi okoljsko in družbeno koristni. Slovenija ima priložnost, da se pridruži najnaprednejšim evropskim “krožnim” državam.



Presentation of the 2nd Circular Change Conference: Walking the talk – Enabling Circular Transformation


Presentation of the 2nd Circular Change Conference

Walking the talk

Enabling Circular Transformation

Ljubljana, 13th April 2017

The presentation of the programme of the 2nd Circular Change Conference 2017 at the House of the EU in Ljubljana was representation of strong partnerships with the Slovenian Government – the co-organiser of the second conference day – , cities of Ljubljana and Maribor, who are hosting the event on 11th and the 12th May, and the Dutch and the Italian Embassies in Slovenia and AmCham Slovenia.
Just after the opening of the Circular Change Academy a video message of the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Miro Cerar, introduced the press conference.  The message of the prime Minister is straight-forward: the time is now in Slovenia and Europe for the transition to circular economy.
Slovenian Government consider that transition moment strategic, confirmed Tadej Slapnik, State Secretary at the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, Head of Partnership for Green Economy, an initiative under which the Government coordinates all ministries and external stakeholders who contribute to the green economic and social transition.
Ladeja Godina Košir, the leader of the Circular Change Platform, introduced the key messages and the speakers on programme of the 2nd Circular Change Conference, which will take place the 11th May at Ljubljana Castle and the 12th May 2017 at Hotel Habakuk, Maribor. Janez Potočnik, The Chair of the Advisory Board of the CC Platform and one of the keynote speakers at the event, underlined that the Circular Change Platform is now recognised as the focal meeting point for the circular economy in the country. He expressed the support to the mission that Slovenia adjoins the most advanced European countries in the circular transition.
The circular transformation is a hot topic at EU level, exposed Franc Bogovič, Member of the European Parliament, EPP.
H.E. Bart Twaalfhoven, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Slovenia, briefly exposed an already advanced state of implementation of circular economy model in the Netherlands, which will be on focus at the Circular Change Conference and exposed examples from the every-day life, a demonstration of sharing economy being rooted in the Dutch culture.
Elisa Scelsa, Managing Director, ITA – Ice, Ljubljana Office, representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Italy, enlightened the Italian best practices and emphasised the full support and trust from her side to the Circular Conference.
The local implementation of the circular transition in Slovenia will be one in the focus of the Conference: Tjaša Ficko, Vice-Mayor of the City of Ljubljana, and Božidar Resnik, Managing Director of Wcycle Institute, representative of the City of Maribor, outlined the full involvement in the support of the event.
A pre-event, Green Plus Digital Is Circular – One Year On, will be hosted by AmCham, as confirmed by Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director, AmCham Slovenia, the traditional partner fo the Conference.
The press conference confirmed the broad partnership created around the Circular Change Conference, believed certain will be an opportunity to share European experiences in the field. Becoming the European Circular Hot Spot in the near future is a natural ambition of the Conference, exposed Jurij Giacomelli, founder of Giacomelli Media, a consulting firm that launched the Circular Change Platform. “This should not be merely  an ambition of the Platform itself, but of all of us, stakeholders, who have to prove the commitment and the ability to become one of the front-running countries, leading the circular transition.”

CCC 2017 Programme


We are talking about the change of the economic system and this takes time.

Introduction to Circular Change Academy

“We are talking about the change of the economic system and this takes time.”

Ljubljana, 13th April 2017

This was only one of the conveying messages shared by Janez Potočnik the former EC Commissioner for Environment in a vivid debate with the audience after his lecture in the EU House in Ljubljana.
“The debate of the economic rationale of TEŠ 6 at this point in time is completely irrelevant. All facts were available even at the time, when crucial decision was made,” was another comment that the former EC Commissioner and today Co-chair, UNEP International Resource Panel made, in a debate following his lecture on the transition to the circular economy, in the renewed premises of the EU House in the centre of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana. His lecture opened the first module of Circular Change Academy, an international training and education programme offered by Circular Change. “Perhaps we should say it straight-forwardly, that we are talking about how to save the mankind”, suggested Robert Ličen, an entrepreneur, who attended the event.
The introductory seminar of the Circular Change Academy – aiming to enable participants for the transition to the Circular Economy and organisations to circular business model transformation –began with an excellent lesson by Dr Potočnik EC Commissioner (20102014) who chairs the Advisory Board of Circular Change Platform. In his lecture he initially exposed inconvenient facts of the widening imbalances which are actually in the roots of all key global problems. In the second part of his lecture Mr Potočnik explained why and how the transition to the circular economy provides effective solutions. In the debate with the audience he shared some experiences, how we can accelerate the transition to the circular business models, adapting to the single business-, industry- and nation-specific issues.
“I appeal to large private companies, even before the small and medium ones, to lead the transition towards the circular economy,” stressed Potočnik in front of attentive audience, emphasizing the need for analytical capacity, possessed rather by large organisations.
A lively Q&A has followed, provoking an interesting discussion, the echo of which will drive the high-level students to the Module 2 of the Circular Change Academy – containing the Circular Change Conference – next 11th and 12th May in Ljubljana and Maribor.



The Dame Who Sank the Linear Economy

Ellen MacArthur

The Dame Who Sank the Linear Economy

Interview with Ellen MacArthur
How and why an experienced yachtswoman has become the icon of the circular economy. The story of Ellen MacArthur and her foundation, a truly global force to help the old economy’s transition.


Energetic, discrete, influential, outspoken, complex, Ellen MacArthur is the Dame of the circular economy. She convinced Google and the World Economic Forum that the linear model is over and that the way we produce and consume across the world can actually be changed.

Ellen MacArthur

Ellen MacArthur The Dame Who Sank the Linear Economy

Ellen McArthur was born 40 years ago in England. At the time, she didn’t know that her fate would be influenced by the most perfect geometrical shape: the circle. In the small Derbyshire village of Whatstandwell, far from the sea, she saved every penny to buy a boat. Her goal? Circle the globe, crossing the oceans as a yachtswoman. And that’s exactly what she did and better than anyone else. On 7 February 2005 she broke the world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe, a feat which gained her international fame. It took 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 33 seconds to sail for for the 27,354 nautical miles (50,660 km).

In 2010, she decided to focus on another circle. She retired from her sailing career on September 2nd. She had something unique in mind: creating a foundation (today globally-known as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation) to work with business and education to accelerate the transition to a new type of economy. Designing a new model, where everything is regenerative and restorative at the very core. A system where no output is wasted, no material is worthless, where products enter a circle of reincarnation and transformation, using sustainable energy sources and impacting positively the economy. An economy shaped like a circle, a circular economy.

Renewable Matter, Circular Change Media Partner

Article by Renewable Matter, Circular Change Media Partner

Ellen and her foundation worked together to give this new model prominence, involving the World Economic Forum, big corporations like Google, Ikea and Banca Intesa. She partnered with consulting firms such as McKinsey and inspired thinkers and researchers. Waves never stopped her. Once you tame the oceans, nothing can stop you. So, she decided to do something even braver, to sail the Earth-ship out of the traditional, linear, petro-capitalist, economic model. And she might set a record too.

Renewable Matter reached her in the Foundation’s HQ in Cowes – Isle of Wight – to discuss the exciting future of the circular economy and her endeavor to achieve something no-one has ever been able to do and to understand how sailing solo can change the world.


Dame MacArthur, 6 years ago you started the EllenMcArthur Foundation, one of the most successful initiatives to establish a new industrial model, inspired by thinkers as Amory Lovins, Gunter Pauli and William McDonough.

How has this journey been and what is the aim of the Foundation?

“The aim is to extend the idea of a circular economy to the global economy. Our first step to success was to work on the circular economy and define it, trying to understand the circular economy as best as we could. It’s continuously evolving and we still only understand a very small percentage of what it really is.

But to understand the circular economy’s systemic nature and systemic mutation, we have to take into account raw materials, biological cycles, technology, the service industry and banking, it encompasses everything. Furthermore, it is fundamental to understand that a grasp of the circular economy is systemic. Once defined what the circular economy was we needed to take the idea out there.

So, over the years, we have introduced eight reports and three books on the circular economy. The first report, launched at the World Economic Forum in 2012, was looking at medium-complex circularity to more than one year and to less than ten. The top line figure was US$ 600 billion dollars worth of economic opportunity in 2005. The numbers were big, even if they were only looking at recycling 25% of products’ components per year. But the report was an epiphany and an eye opener, people really began to realize that it was indeed a real opportunity.

We then went on a second report, which was January 2013, looking the FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods). We discovered an economic potential of US$700 billion in the global market, not much harder not to achieve because the FMCG is much faster. We looked at the biological elements of food waste and plastic packaging as material with high potential. With the second report, we were invited to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. By year three, we had a partnership with the WEF. The third report, which was looking at how the global and economic value supply chains can become circular, was co-branded with the WEF. We had an impact on the global economy.”


Ellen MacArthur

“In the future, I see the Foundation continuing to work on education, with businesses, cities and governments, on communication and publications, accelerating ideas, and promoting systemic initiatives.”

And how did you evolve from there? Revolutionizing the global economy, I must say, is no small task.

“When we launched the Foundation we set out to work in three key areas.

First: working directly with businesses, looking at how they could become more circular. At the beginning we knew very little about that journey, we just had a vague idea of what success looked like.

Another area we wanted to work on was analysis insight: understanding the economic rationality.

The third area was looking at the opportunity through education for the circular economy. I stress this aspect in particular, as we do executive education.

“It is beyond just publishing economic papers: we show the value of the education of the circular economy. We do this education project to create real circular business leaders but also to provide an inspirational perspective, so that people can see there is a different way in which our economy can function, especially for young people, who are still in the phase of life where ideas are being imprinted. We receive fantastic feedback from them because suddenly there’s so much to be done, the more we do, the faster, the better we can get to a restorative, regenerative, powerful economy. We hope that in the future there will be a circular generation.”


What direction will your work take in the future?

“In the future, I see the Foundation continuing to work on education, with businesses, cities and governments, on communication and publications, accelerating ideas, and promoting systemic initiatives. Our view is that we will continue to focus on those five areas and push, as hard as we can, as we always have, as a team. Now we work in many areas: we have people in Brazil, the States, here in the UK, across Europe. We have a team in Brussels, India and China, looking at economic studies and building initiatives. Our work is expanding very quickly, it’s becoming global at a breathtaking speed I could not even imagine only three years ago. Just bringing those five things to a global level, in the way that we know it worked at the World Economic Forum, will entail a great deal of work ahead of us. It’s so complex that it’s impossible to say where we will be in ten years’ time.”


Yours is the most sophisticated and global observatory on the topic. Where is the circular economy establishing solid roots? 
“I would say it’s definitely more advanced in Europe. There are elements that occur in many countries, but an understanding of the systemic nature of this change, I would say it is more of a European phenomenon. Overseas, the market is beginning to kick off: we have a team in the US and we have incredibly positive conversations, we have global partners in the US. Emerging markets have also a huge potential in the circular economy. In the Western World, we have built the linear system, we have a linear production, a linear thinking, a linear design, it’s hard to get out of it. In emerging markets, you can escape the linear system. It would make much more sense to start from scratch and embrace the circular economy straight away.”


How are you pushing circular economy’s ideas in developing economies? Has the Foundation tried to lobby cooperation and development agencies, to have them bridging these models?

“We had many conversations with organizations such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and of course the World Economic Forum; we organized informal gatherings with the world’s economic leaders. We are targeting specifically Africa and the potential for its development, there are many conversations going on about circular economic benefits and there is a massive opportunity there. Once you realize how great an opportunity is, suddenly you are building an economic model which is restorative, which manages to keep products and materials with the highest recorded value. It’s not just containing the damage on a yearly basis, it’s like rebuilding a different model with massive economic potential. It’s going to be challenging, there are many barriers along the way.”


The EU has just approved a Circular Economy Package, with a set of policies allocating incentives to the industry in order to develop circular economy business models. Do you think we need more ambitious policies than these?

“It’s part of a process. We still know so little about the circular economy. As with policies, trying to do the right thing is actually incredibly challenging because the last thing you want to do is to put something in place, with the right intentions only to find out it generates the opposite effect. The circular economy is policy-relevant not policy-prescriptive. So policies can help, but they don’t necessarily have to define exactly what needs to be done. It will be trial and error, I’m sure, but what has been incredibly positive about the process with the European Commission is that it has shifted from being focused on simply waste to a real circular economy package, with systemic change and the launch of a public consultation last summer, which made a difference.

I think the Package has been a very successful start. Look at the feedback from businesses, cities, regions that have worked on this for many years, going back to the Commission after the first package, saying we need the circular economy to happen, not just waste management. I think we have a real opportunity to create an innovative legislation: both parties want to create the circular economy.”


Which EU country is the leader in the field?

“There’s a lot of work happening in Holland, for sure. Over the past 10 years they have been working with the government and the general public. In the Netherlands they have a slightly different and open attitude. Some of the challenges they had with the geography and the limited territory are indeed the reason why the circular thinking has gained momentum. There are some astonishing examples of industrial processes. But there are pockets in unlikely places. We worked for example with the city of Phoenix, or with Barcelona, places really forward-thinking.”


How can a city or a region become a circular economy leader?

“You need to involve all the stakeholders. When you are creating a systemic change, it’s not easy because you can’t do it alone, you have to do it with many other partners, you need to bring everybody to the table in order to create that systemic change.”


Many fear that the circular model might impact jobs. What does your research show?

“When we carried out the study on Europe, at the beginning of the public consultation [for the Circular Package], we worked specifically with the German Employment Economic Group, and we were specifically looking at what influence the circular economy would have on employment. Would employment rise or fall? Results showed that most probably it would have a positive impact.

Actually there would be less employment in the raw material industry but there would be more employment in the remanufacturing and service industries.

Take Airbnb as an example of the circular economy: you have huge hotels being built all over the world – it is a clear linear model and then suddenly Airbnb pops up, showing there is a lot of unused space in buildings that can be utilized otherwise. And through the IT digital revolution it unlocks spaces which were previously unavailable, almost impossible to find. Suddenly we have this visibility into spare space within the global economy. It could be spare materials, spare equipment, anything: suddenly everything has the ability to be connected. And this creates jobs. This is the time for the circular economy because we have the information technology that can help this. Five years ago we couldn’t predict what the digital revolution would have done for employment, suddenly the informal economy, the sharing, the circular are showing opportunities.”


Ellen MacArthur

Ellen MacArthur proposes a bold new way to see the world’s economic systems: not as linear, but as circular, where everything comes around.

How will trade change with the circular economy?

“If you look at small businesses trying to become more circular, providing a product-as-a-service, they might buy the product upfront from larger manufacture company, of course, but then they need a constant relationship with the manufacturer and the customers, as they might offer life extension services, or they might be able to remanufacture those products locally. Now in the traditional enterprise you buy the product and you sell it and then re-sell it. End of story. That would change because customers will not own the materials, they will only use it for some time. For the company, that piece of equipment will be ‘in someone else’s house’ for a while. Indeed for the financial sector this will be a huge change. Financial firms are trying to understand how a business that has adopted a circular model will unlock more economic potential and will set its revenue model. Just having the banking sector understanding whether companies are trying to get to its key, you have this huge big development of where value changes and who owns value.

“Having the finance sector understanding the difference between linear and circular is key.”


The Foundation carries out extensive research. Does it work with specific research centres? 

“We have 14 university partnerships, to support teaching and research in the circular economy, from London University to Bocconi University in Milan.

We are seeing growing interests in the research partnerships. Professors want to get involved, they see the opportunity, they want to understand the circular economy more deeply. We need to fathom the consequences of the adoption of such models, take Uber or Airbnb as an example. We are going to do things differently, we are going to find spare vehicles, we are going to find spare buildings, to remanufacture everything, and we need to find a way to utilize them, to benefit from these processes. We are building a picture of what the circular economy is, and the more we have of that picture, the more straightforward it would be for new companies, cities, regions to step in the circular space.”


How come that a record-breaking yachtswoman has become the icon of the circular economy?

“It was very unexpected; I never thought I would do this. All I wanted to do from the age of 4 was to sail a boat, and I spent all my free time thinking about sailing. For years, I saved my school money for a boat, I left school at 17 to become a sailing instructor, at 18 I set out for my solo round-the-world tour. Everything was about sailing, everything was about being at sea, everything was about finding a sponsor, everything was about getting out there and being on the water and I absolutely loved it. I still love it as much today as I ever did, it’s a massive magnet for me being on the sea. There was absolutely no reason to step out of that, I should still be doing it now. But then suddenly the penny dropped. You know, it’s incredibly difficult when you go to sea. Imagine to be about to go off today from Italy to sail around the world, nonstop, you would take everything you need for your survival. Everything. You have a boat, your little world, and you put everything on that, for your survival for the next 3 months, or 4 or 5, depending on how fast your boat is. Now when you leave, that’s it.

”When I finish my journey, I go back and I restock and I set off again.”

Your link with the land stop, and you prepare to be at sea for the full duration, if you run out of something, that’s it, you can’t stop and buy more, in the deep ocean you are 2,500 miles from the nearest town, five days away from everything, so you really are isolated and you really do develop a different way of thinking. You get used to it and you go into a different mode. And suddenly it dawned on me with the second round-the-world tour that our economy is no different than my boat. We have a world with finite resources: it’s absolutely no different from the boat. When I finish my journey, I go back and I restock and I set off again. But we cannot do that, we don’t have more resources, and it just suddenly hit me, and I knew nothing about the circular economy, I never heard the word, never came across the idea, I knew absolutely nothing. It’s what brought me to try to understand the global economy. I started reading every book I could, I met experts, scientist, economists, educators, tried to understand. If this current model that we use doesn’t work, what does? And initially you point to ‘we need to use less, we need to travel less’.

If we change the system, we can recover all the materials.

But then you realize that all of that is essential, we absolutely need to be incredibly careful with what we use now because we have finite resources. It’s not that we are going to educate every young person in the world, ‘we just need to use everything a little bit less.’ You know it doesn’t work, because we have desires. And then you start thinking ‘So what does work?’ And suddenly you see that if we change the system, we can recover all the materials, we use biomimicry design, sharing economy models – which brings the utilization of products to the highest level – and the performance economy where they were able to do the same with bigger products. Suddenly you see that systemic thinking can change everything. And it was the personal journey I went on that made me realize that the system doesn’t work, the linear economy doesn’t work in the long term. That is how I started to think, alone in my boat, about a new economy, which is able to be restorative and regenerative, to rebuild natural capital, which has basically degraded since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And now the race is on!”

Published by Renewable Matter , edited by Emanuele Bompan.

Renewable Matter


Ellen MacArthur publications, www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications
Ellen MacArthur Foundation, www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

Connett: Creative Communities to Win the Waste Challenge

The Zero Waste recipe

Creative Communities to Win the Waste Challenge

Interview with Paul Connett
Here are the ingredients of the Zero Waste recipe: sharing and communicating good practices and achieved results to the community because examples are key. Avoid delegating research of solutions to sustainability experts, artists must contribute as well.
Renewable Matter

Article by Renewable Matter, Circular Change Media Partner

Paul Connett is considered the “father” of the Zero Waste Strategy, which regrettably often has become a slogan with no real meaning. We asked him to tell us what the state of the art of such strategy is, what its possible developments are and what the next steps may be. First – he says – we need to target the community, raising people’s awareness on the environmental and economic advantages envisaged by this strategy.


The Zero Waste Strategy is widely accepted by environmentalists but struggles to catch on. Why?
The key problem is the loss, or rather the absence, of political leadership. The Italian politicians that I meet, for example, always tell me that in Italy there is a cultural problem with the Zero Waste Strategy because Italians are not positive about it. Well, this is false: when two similar communities, three kilometers apart, have a markedly different separate waste collection rate, one of 17% and the other of 80%, the cultural aspect has certainly nothing to do with it, because the culture does not change within such a small distance. What can change is the political guidance.”
So, what needs to be done?

“We need to start from the communities, working with some ‘ingredients.’ First, we obviously need to implement separate waste collection, then we need to organize our community. But we also need creativity and the contribution of creative people able to find solutions. Not only that: we need to involve children who are creative par excellence and guarantee the future of the Zero Waste supply chain. Lastly, we need excellent communication. These are the ‘little pieces’ of the Zero Waste Strategy that can become collective knowledge and be shared through the Internet as well amongst various communities to solve problems.”

So, is a technological as well as sociological approach necessary?

“Above all a sociological one. Nowadays the waste issue is more sociological than technological: solutions lie in a better organization, a better education and only at the end in a better industrial planning. Then the waste issue must be seen in a wider context. This is just one of the pieces of what we need to tackle a whole series of problems linked to sustainability. There is a risk of catastrophic events, we need contributions from all disciplines – both science and humanities – to solve problems. We need agriculture, architecture, energy, community, industries. Obviously, they must all be sustainable.”

Paul Connett

Paul Connett is considered the “father” of the Zero Waste Strategy.

In other words, maximum interdisciplinarity is needed, isn’t it?

“Yes. More importantly, we should not confine our reasoning and delegate research of solutions to sustainability experts. We need the contribution of all disciplines, even if they are remotely linked to sustainability: not only economy, physics, and chemistry but also painting, music, and poetry. And there is a need for enlightened minds working in their fields on themes linked to sustainability. This is the biggest challenge we have to face since WWII.”

Is that all?

“Absolutely not. Besides that, there is also a very important psychological aspect: if we want to succeed with the Zero Waste Strategy it is necessary to involve from the start a large number of people. Indeed, as human beings, we need to see successful examples working as a psychological driver so as to activate new processes in other communities and promote the grassroots development of the Zero Waste Movement. When communities reach a good result – even with regard to separate waste collection – become themselves, with their pride, psychological drivers for other communities which may be near or far. Moreover, the success of the waste strategy can be useful to develop other pieces of local sustainability, within renewables and organic farming and so on. For example, we can use compost produced by a community in the fight against pesticides, GMOs and climate change. All this within the same community and sharing it with others. Leading by example is key in spreading the Zero Waste Strategy.”

In order to eliminate waste, we need to reuse materials from the separate waste collection, but often it is local committees that oppose new plants. How can we solve this contradiction?

“I think there is a need for grassroots initiatives. We need to know what the needs of a specific community are. Over the years, I have personally done almost 2,500 presentations of the Zero Waste Strategy to communities. Both to understand what communities want, and what they can do. I think that in the future there will be lots of friction. We must tell communities that on the one hand there are multinationals, whose target is to exploit the resources of the planet until they can, while on the other we have those who want to protect themselves, by defending such resources. Against this framework, we have to teach communities that they should not give others their resources, starting from waste which is a value that can create work and small businesses within the community itself. The same should be done with food. Italy is trying with the Slow Food movement, which is experimenting with short supply chains that are a perfect match for the Zero Waste philosophy and the emission reduction. Energy should also be included in short supply chains which must be decentralized and produced near the area where it is used. If all this is combined with this approach, possible resistance by local communities towards pieces of the Zero Waste Strategy can be defeated.”

Could you please give us a few examples, perhaps in different nations?
2nd Circular Change Conference

2nd Circular Change Conference

“Yes, but I want to underline the fact that it is not nations who recycle waste and set up Zero Waste Strategy: it is the community that we must observe, otherwise we start with the wrong approach. A solution found in a community may not be good in another, for instance for population aspects. In America, for example, we have to look at what San Francisco does and not at California or the United States. In Italy, we need to look at Treviso or Capannori, in order to find possible solutions. Let’s take the organic waste fraction as an example, in which three communities around the world must be carefully studied. I am talking about San Francisco, Milan and New York which are tackling this problem with a different approach, since these cities are very different from one another.”

When will the Zero Waste target be reached?
“Each community has its own timing. We can, though, look at what happened in the past. The Zero Waste Strategy started in Australia in 1996 when the government passed a law on waste envisaging their drastic reduction. Objective: zero waste by 2010. This was an important signal that reached California where a similar law was passed through which each community had to manage 50% of waste in ways other than disposing of it in landfills or incinerate it. After that, California reached 300 communities that achieved such objective, saving money. So, many people saw these results were possible and started to ask: ‘Why not increase the objective to 60, 70 or 80%? Or aim at the Australian one?’ Other communities such as that in San Francisco went from the ‘No Waste’ objective to the ‘Zero Waste’ one. It may seem a small change, but it is not. The second slogan communicates citizens the distance to the objective, thus making it more effective.”
Good. But where the Zero Waste Strategy is applied, how far are we from target?
“Nowadays, there are two places in the world where this strategy is in full swing. The first is San Francisco where we have over 80% of the separate waste collection, there is no incineration and we are moving towards 100% – that is Zero Waste – by 2020. The other – surprise, surprise – is Italy where there are the worst examples of waste management in the world, but also the best. Today, in Italy, there are over 1,000 communities where separate waste collection exceeds 60%. 300 are over 80% and some of these over 90%. And everything is achieved in very short periods of time.”
Italy at the helm of sustainability. Are you sure?

“Yes. Today communities need clean water, good food, high-quality agriculture, and life. Italy has all this and in abundance. From this perspectives, you are millionaires compared to the average US citizens; I believe in this, so much so that when they ask me where I would like to live I reply Italy. And all this without even considering the landscape, art, and cultural heritage. Not everywhere, to tell you the truth, but this applies to at least one thousand Italian communities. And this is no small thing.”

10 steps towards zero Waste

10 steps towards zero Waste

Good, but one the problems in Italy is work. Can the Zero Waste Strategy contribute to job creation?

“Yes, the Zero Waste Strategy can certainly offer many opportunities, much more than incineration that compared to that is a ‘black box.’ Let’s take, for instance, the sector of reuse and repairing. Today, in this sector, we already have work linked to maintenance, reuse and repairing and that can be increased. But we do not have people working on training people whom we could teach how to repair and reuse objects. Here is fresh work. Besides that, new jobs can be created reusing building materials, adapting it to new constructions. These are activities that in traditional supply chains do not exist, but which can produce new jobs. It is a network of supply chains with a flow which does not produce temporary work and thus job insecurity. A person with no training, for example, can start working on waste separation and then move onto repairing, thus improving their working position.”

Today there is a lot more scientific research on recycling and more generally on waste management compared to the past. Do you think we are getting there?

“I think so. Today, many researchers, scientists, and students deal with this, stimulated by the ten points of the Zero Waste Strategy. We need research, particularly in composting, reusing and repairing and in increasing waste separation in big cities. Not only that: we need to develop new systems to separate the residual fraction in a better way, achieving more recyclable material, and to eliminate as many toxic substances as possible, thus obtaining more organic matter, useful for compost.”

So, can research be carried out in systems only?

“There is a very important sector where a lot of research is needed: that of design. Products must be designed to be reused and recycled and the best minds available must be included here as well because it is a strategic sector to reach the Zero Waste objective. Here, Italy can play a crucial role because it has some of the best architects and designers in the world. I believe that if Italians cannot improve the design of an object, no-one else can.”


Published by Renewable Matter , edited by Sergio Ferraris.

Renewable Matter

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Janez Potočnik on the Circular Economy Part 4

In a four-part video series made up of short lessons, thoughts and insights, Janez Potočnik, the former European Commissioner for the Environment and president of the Advisory Board of Circular Change, explains

why changes in how we live and do business are imminent

In his view, the circular economy is the only way forward – and the best way forward, delivering new business opportunities and a new hope for the global environment. We, however, are still far from reaching this goal. International cooperation and wholesome policy packages will be necessary for changing hearts and habits. Only then can the 21st century become the century of sustainability, not fragility.

Part 4:

Environmental tax reform for a more sustainable world

How can tax reforms that shift the burden from labour to resource use and pollution make our society more sustainable and resilient? Watch a short video of Janez Potočnik explaining the benefits of re-designing the tax system in Europe.

To learn more and avoid missing any of the four parts, visit our website frequently and become part of our vision for a circular future!

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Janez Potočnik on the Circular Economy Part 3

In a four-part video series made up of short lessons, thoughts and insights, Janez Potočnik, the former European Commissioner for the Environment and president of the Advisory Board of Circular Change, explains

why changes in how we live and do business are imminent

In his view, the circular economy is the only way forward – and the best way forward, delivering new business opportunities and a new hope for the global environment. We, however, are still far from reaching this goal. International cooperation and wholesome policy packages will be necessary for changing hearts and habits. Only then can the 21st century become the century of sustainability, not fragility.

Part 3:

Collaborative policy-making can lead us towards a circular economy

We cannot achieve systemic change without adapting our policy approach to the needs of the circular economy. Overcoming today’s short-term mentality will be difficult, but not impossible, explains Janez Potočnik. Holistic policy packages that connect each and every stakeholder on all levels of governance, from the European to the local, can deliver a clear signal to the economy that the old ways of doing business are no longer viable.

For companies, the circular economy represents mainly new and exciting business opportunities.

To learn more and avoid missing any of the four parts, visit our website frequently and become part of our vision for a circular future!

Sign-Up for newsletter

News, events and inspiration regularly in your inbox.

Janez Potočnik on the Circular Economy Part 2

In a four-part video series made up of short lessons, thoughts and insights, Janez Potočnik, the former European Commissioner for the Environment and president of the Advisory Board of Circular Change, explains

why changes in how we live and do business are imminent.

In his view, the circular economy is the only way forward – and the best way forward, delivering new business opportunities and a new hope for the global environment. We, however, are still far from reaching this goal. International cooperation and wholesome policy packages will be necessary for changing hearts and habits. Only then can the 21st century become the century of sustainability, not fragility.

Part 2:

The solution is global and is in the hands of all our international partners

When asked what the trickiest part of the EU Commissioner for the Environment’s job is, Janez Potočnik says:

“Changing the mentality, changing the habits, going to the roots of the problem.”

The global economy has the potential to play a positive role in the fight against climate change, however companies and policy-makers must focus on building a circular economy. This requires a shift in the way we think about production, consumption and waste: from linear to circular! Watch the interview with the Xinhua correspondent Miao Xiaojuan to learn how the EU is responding to the global environmental challenges, which policies can be used for enabling a circular transition and what role will the European-Chinese partnership play in achieving a sustainable future for all.

To learn more and avoid missing any of the four parts, visit our website frequently and become part of our vision for a circular future!

Sign-Up for newsletter

News, events and inspiration regularly in your inbox.

Janez Potočnik on the Circular Economy Part 1

In a four-part video series made up of short lessons, thoughts and insights, Janez Potočnik, the former European Commissioner for the Environment and president of the Advisory Board of Circular Change, explains

why changes in how we live and do business are imminent.

In his view, the circular economy is the only way forward – and the best way forward, delivering new business opportunities and a new hope for the global environment. We, however, are still far from reaching this goal. International cooperation and wholesome policy packages will be necessary for changing hearts and habits. Only then can the 21st century become the century of sustainability, not fragility.

Part 1:

Change is unavoidable

In his captivating talk at TEDx Flander, Janez Potočnik, at the time the European Commissioner for the Environment, makes a heartfelt argument for changing the way we consume, manufacture – and live.

“The environment and the economy are part of the same coin. We should simply stop flipping that coin.”

The current rates of resource consumption are unsustainable and are damaging our ecosystems beyond repair. Living in an interconnected world of limited resources means that humanity has a collective responsibility to re-design our social, economic and environmental systems from fragility to sustainability.

Thus, the whole economy must undergo a transformation towards a circular economy.

To learn more and avoid missing any of the four parts, visit our website frequently and become part of our vision for a circular future!

Sign-Up for newsletter

News, events and inspiration regularly in your inbox.