Prispevki

Janez Potočnik med svetovnimi voditelji prehoda v krožno gospodarstvo

Helsinki, 5. junij

Danes se je v finski prestolnici začel Svetovni forum krožnega gospodarstva 2017. Na slavnostni otvoritvi je imel uvodni govor dr. Janez Potočnik, sopredsedujoči Mednarodnemu panelu za vire UNEP, nekdanji evropski komisar za okolje in svetovno priznani strokovnjak za krožno gospodarstvo. Prav Potočnik je kot evropski komisar osnoval prvi sveženj ukrepov za spodbujanje prehoda v krožno gospdoarstvo, ki so ga že tedaj začele izvajati najbolj napredne članice EU, Evropska komisija pa ga je v malce spremenjeni obliki sprejela v naslednjem mandatu, decembra 2015.

Potočnik se je v svojem uvodnem nastopu zahvalil Finski za organizacijo tako odmevnega srečanja, ki utrjuje zavedanje o tem, da je prehod v krožno gospodarstvo izziv sedanjosti. Priznal je, da bi pred tremi leti, ko je kot evropski komisar zagovarjal prvi sveženj ukrepiv za prehod v krožno gospdoarstvo, ne mogel verjeti, da bo  krožna tranzicija dosegla tako moćno zavedanje in vključenost. Pozval je k voditeljstvu k bolj umnemu upralvjanju z viri, saj je čas za ukrepanje že zdavnaj tu.

Dvodnevno srečanje, ki je v Helsinkih zbralo več kot 1500 udeležencev iz celega sveta, organizira finski inovacijski sklad SITRA. Srečanje  se odvija v dneh, ko Finska praznuje 100-letnico svoje nedovisnosti , in poteka v kongresnem centru Finlandia, zgradbe velikega finskega arhitekta Alvarja Aalta, ki je ob svojem odprtju leta 1975 gostilo zgodovinso srečanje Organizacije za varnost in sodelovanje v Evropi (OVSE).

Na Forumu, ki je namenjen spoznavanju, načrtovanju in povezovanju globalnih, nacionalnih in lokalnih procesov transformacije v krožno gospodarstvo, sodeluje tudi delegacija Republike Slovenije, pod vodstvom Tadeja Slapnika, državnega sekretarja v Kabinetu predsednika vlade Republike Slovenije in vodje Partnerstva za zeleno gospodarstvo Slovenije.

Program konference je objavljen TUKAJ, predstavitveni video konference pa TUKAJ.

Ogled foruma je možen v živo na tej povezavi. Posnetki prenosa bodo objavljeni tudi po zaključku konference.

Janez Potočnik introductory speaker at the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki

Helsinki, 5th June

Today the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 opens doors in Helsinki. Honours of the introductory speech went to Janez Potočnik, the renowned Slovenian expert on the circular economy and Co-Chair of the UN Resource Panel (UNEP). Potočnik was  EC Commissioner for Environment (2010-2014) and is today Partner of SystemiQ and Chair of the Advisory Board of Circular Change.

In his opening speech Potočnik called for more decisive leadership that has to put the transition towards the circular economy in action at the systemic level. In front of over 1500 attendees from around the globe he admitted he would not have believed three years ago, when as the EC Commissioner he was promoting the first package of measures for the support to the circular transition to see the process advance so much and he thanked Finland for organising the high-level event.

A two-day gathering in Helsinki is organised by the Finnish innovation fund SITRA. The Forum takes place in days when Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary and is held in Finlandia Hall, the country’s most renowned congress centre, designed by the architect Alvar Aalto, where in 1975 Helsinki host the historic meeting of the Organisation for cooperation and security in Europe (OCSE).

Please see more on the Forum here.

Choose the one thing and then stick to it

by Jurij Giacomelli

In the first part of the article, related to the Slovenian development challenges, published on Siol.NET, I propose a radical transition towards the circular economy with the focus on selected economic sectors. The selection of the prioritised sectors derives from the natural, geographical, historic, social and geopolitical factors: transportation and logistics, energy, biological cycle, related both to food and sustainable tourism, and the transformation of a supplier-orientated industry sector, typically SMEs. Remember: circular business model transformation at the level of each enterprise means innovation and the transition to the circular economy at the systemic level means nothing else but the creation of a well-functioning innovation eco-system. This is the real development challenge for the Country in the heart of Europe and committed to the EU, and not the balancing between different spheres of socio-economic progress, which merely focuses on (re)distribution of wealth, rather than on new value creation. Hence, if the radical circular transition should be The One Thing, go for it and stick to it. – Just like Curly (Jack Pallance) revealed to Mitch (Billy Crystal) in The City Slickers as “The Secret fo Life“.

Curly (Jack Pallance) revealing the secret of life in The City Slickers (1991)

Read here the full article in Slovenian.

The importance of a significant improvement of the education system as well as increased, however, targeted investments in science should have a priority over the investments into “hardware”. As explained in more depth in the second part of the article, the radical circular transition must become a political process supported by a wide development coalition. Cultural openness, leadership and cooperation represent the indispensable triad of virtues of such a political project, which should be accompanied by the truth (freedom of speech, the independence of informative media and the quality of journalism), justice (well-functioning judicial system) and knowledge.

Beyond the growing uncertainty, still aching consequences of the largest financial and economic crisis of the modern times and soaring social and environmental imbalances we can observe the making of a new social order, based on a sort of a global caste system. The positioning of individuals as well as entire societies in it will depend upon the success of the transition towards an innovation society in the context of a more balanced economic system, which will not be only more sustainable, but also more circular.

However, if we look into the future with hope, we see the dawn of an era of new humanism. After all, at the end of the circular transition it is man, not a computer or a robot. In the European history, humanism was shaped by strong leaders and thinkers. In this sense we can rely on the history to repeat itself.

Jurij Giacomelli,

Founder and Managing Director, Giacomelli media Ltd

Potočnik: The world is out of social, economic and environmental balance

Interview with Dr Janez Potočnik

The world is out of social, economic and environmental balance

Ljubljana, 15 April (STA)

Financial capital is overvalued, labour is undervalued and natural capital is mostly given no value, which leads to a world that is out of social, economic and environmental balance, former European Commissioner Janez Potočnik told the STA in an interview focused on circular economy.
Janez Potočnik

Dr Janez Potočnik, President of the Circular Change Advisory Board

According to Potočnik, who chairs the consultative committee of the platform Circular Change, the first steps towards a circular economy are being made and the key stakeholders are giving their declarative support, but it is time to turn words into actions.

To achieve a circular economy the private and public sector need to work hand in hand, he said, explaining that the role of the public sector was particularly important for giving the signal that rational and efficient use of resources is also economically attractive.

While the economy can move things to a certain degree, the public sector must contribute to moving things in the right direction by giving the right signals. Potočnik thus believes governments must engage in the process of introducing a circular economy through their economic policies – from how business results are measured to tax policies, subsidies, public procurement, orientation of investments, a reform of the financial sector and changing consumers’ habits.

Moreover, people need to be motivated to understand that a transition to a circular economy is good for them and can bring a plethora of benefits that are not limited to the economy but also include social aspects. “We are starting to understand that we can basically live just as well, if not even better, if we follow the concept of meeting our own needs and not the concept of possessing all the goods that are forced on us by the world around us in one way or another,” he stressed. Turning to the environmental policies of US President Donald Trump, Potočnik said that although they “surely won’t contribute to faster change” they cannot stop positive change.

While environmental awareness in the US reflected in policies on the federal level is much lower than in Europe, Potočnik is optimistic because of the agility of the business sector in some parts of the US. The US has thus brought numerous ideas related to the concept of sharing economy and more environment-friendly mobility, like electric cars where ideas did not come from automotive giants but rather from people who had previously had nothing to do with the automotive industry. Nevertheless, the US will need to undergo greater change than Europe, where awareness is somewhat greater already because the relative scarcity of resources compared to the US has forced people to be more rational.

Potočnik also stressed that the world has committed to sustainability goals, which he sees as a “message that we understand that the way we’ve worked in the past will no longer do”. This calls for a change of the economic system, production and consumption, which is also how the world’s key problems should be addressed, he said, arguing that “even the core of the issues related to migrations and security lies here”. According to Potočnik, what is being addressed are all to often consequences and not the reasons. “If the reasons are not resolved, the problems – including migration and security issues – will stay right here,” he stressed.

 

edited by  Martina Gojkošek

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

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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Winners and Losers of a Circular Future

Those who will gain from the transition to the circular economy and those who will not. Obstacles to be removed. Factors to bet on.

The opinion of four Euro-MPs who, through an examination of the EU Package, is organizing this very important step.

Renewable Matter, Circular Change Media Partner

Article by Renewable Matter, Circular Change Media Partner

On the quest to develop a circular economy for Europe, leadership has now been passed by the European Commission to the Parliament and Council. With amendments drafted and discussions continuing in earnest, voting is due to take place in the coming months.

To gain a deeper insight into the priorities and objectives of the European Parliament we spoke with some of its most influential MEPs, spearheading work on the topic, including rapporteur on the Circular Economy Package Simona Bonafé (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) and shadow rapporteurs Josu Juaristi Abaunz from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, Piernicola Pedicini, from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, and Nils Torvalds from Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Despite divergent political orientations, the answer to the key question of who or what stands to gain the most from the adoption of a circular economy comes back loud and clear: the environment, the economy, and European citizens. But, important details still remain to be clarified, including the means to tackle barriers to market access for clean tech solutions, such as subsidies for carbon-intensive sectors, and how best to establish targets and measures to help reduce, reuse and recycle products and waste, without distorting markets or impacting jobs and growth.
The challenge, facing these thought leaders, will be to strike the right balance between ambitious objectives for the economy, the environment and its citizens with pragmatic solutions which can be implemented at national and regional level. Together they aim to craft policy which reigns in older, resource intensive industries whilst enabling emerging sustainable, competitive ones. In this edition of Renewable Matter, they reveal some of their touchstones for delivering the economy of the future.
Simona Bonafè

Simona Bonafè, 
Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

Interview with Simona Bonafè,

Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)

Ms Bonafè is Rapporteur on the EU’s Circular Economy Package. In this role, Ms Bonafe is tasked with outlining Parliament’s position on the proposal and with representing MEPs during the trialogues with Commission and European Council. As MEP, Ms Bonafè is a member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee and a substitute member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

Who, in your opinion, will be the “winners and losers” in the transition towards a circular economy?
“I would start by saying that today, in Europe, with the current linear economic system there are about 600 million tons of potentially reusable waste that loses value and is completely excluded from the production cycle with negative effects both on industrial competitiveness and environmental sustainability. Through the promotion of reuse and recycling, we could move towards a production and consumption model able to turn these disadvantages into opportunities and benefits for the whole society. On the one hand, for instance, producers could benefit from cheaper raw materials and on the other, citizens would enjoy longer lasting products. Data provided by the Commission are clear. If we could obtain a reduction of productive factors’ needs, ranging from 17% to 24% by 2030, this would lead to a saving in the European industrial sector of 630 billion per year with a reduction of total greenhouse gasses of 2-4%.

On the one hand, for instance, producers could benefit from cheaper raw materials and on the other, citizens would enjoy longer lasting products.”

Simona Bonafè

“On the contrary, losers will be those who will not understand the innovative drive of a transition towards the circular economy. Probably they will not grasp it in the short-term, but in a few years they will see how consumers will prefer business models able to offer more reusable, repairable and recyclable products.”

Do you see a role for the bio-economy within the circular economy? If yes, where do you see links do you between the two systems?
“The bio-economy plays a crucial role within the circular economy. A more efficient use of urban waste could indeed become an important incentive for the bio-economy supply chain; in particular, I am referring to a sustainable management of organic waste, which could replace raw materials obtained using fossil fuels with renewable sources for the production of primary materials and products. To stimulate this model on a vast scale, and to promote the integration between bio-based industrial production and waste management, there is a need for a legislation on waste clearly setting out the objectives and resources required and evaluating how much public funding is needed to achieve them.”

 

“Consumers themselves will influence the material landscape by choosing to buy products and materials that could be recycled and/or reused, that last longer and that can be easily repaired.“

Simona Bonafè

 

 

The EU and Italy, in particular, is a world leader in developing and commercialising renewable, bio-based products – in an age of low oil prices and continued high subsidies of the fossil fuel industry what measures need to be put in place to ensure the transition away from a linear and towards a circular, renewable economy.
“In Italy, the bio-economy sector employs about 7% of the total workforce and constantly growing. These are encouraging data indicating the worthiness of the policies adopted in the last few years. The Collegato Ambientale (“Environmental Bill”) provides a further push in this direction. I am referring to the new provisions on green public procurement for public administrations, the national scheme on the environmental footprint of products or incentives for companies producing goods from waste recovery.
“The next step to take is that of using tax leverage more rationally, rewarding products with a higher ‘circularity index’.”

How, in your opinion, the circular economy can redesign the “material landscape” of European economies? Can we imagine different perspectives for the so-called “permanent materials” – like glass and metals – to effectively promote the closed-loop recycling?
“Consumers themselves will influence the material landscape by choosing to buy products and materials that could be recycled and/or reused, that last longer and that can be easily repaired.
“The Legislator’s task is to create a clear legal framework reflecting priorities of the waste hierarchy. This includes permanent materials which, thanks to their characteristics, can already adapt to the circular economy principles. Growth rates in this sector (for example aluminum), confirm once again how consumers favour such characteristics.”

Josu Juaristi Abaunz

Josu Juaristi Abaunz, 
Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left

Interview with Josu Juaristi Abaunz,

Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left

Mr Juaristi Abaunz is a journalist who was elected as MEP for the GUE/NGL group in May 2014. As MEP and member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee has worked on the circular economy, energy issues, radiation and transport emissions. Mr Juaristi Abaunz is also a substitute member of the Committee on Regional Development.

 

Who, in your opinion, will be the “winners and losers” in the transition towards an EU circular economy?
“Society, as a whole, stands to gain from the transition to an EU circular economy including citizens, business, the environment and public authorities. Moving from a linear to a circular economy will offer an opportunity to reinvent our economy, making it more sustainable and competitive. The environment will benefit as our resources will be enabled to re-enter the economic loop.
“Natural resources are finite, we are running out of them, and we need to keep in mind. In addition to this, the Circular Economy will create new business opportunities linked, on the one hand, to innovation and eco-design and on the other, to resource recovery and recycling facilities. Moreover, citizens themselves will benefit from the economic and employment growth and from the opportunity to live in a healthier and more environmentally friendly Europe. Nevertheless, I would like to underline that this will only be completely achieved by amending the current proposal, especially regarding incineration; as not only landfilling but also incineration plants are highly contaminating and are causing health problems. In our opinion, the final text should, therefore, narrow down the possibilities of the use of incineration to the minimum level, by measures such as banning the possibility of incinerating recyclables.

“However, we believe that transition should be without negative impact in the long run. It’s true that some business sectors might suffer from some short-term economic problems in the adaptation phase, but those will be compensated in the long run. Moreover, it must be noted that these companies will receive assistance in the transition.”

Josu Juaristi Abaunz

“However, we believe that transition should be without negative impact in the long run. It’s true that some business sectors might suffer from some short-term economic problems in the adaptation phase, but those will be compensated in the long run. Moreover, it must be noted that these companies will receive assistance in the transition.”

Do you see a role for the economy within the circular economy? If yes, where do you see links do you between the two systems?
“Both concepts are linked, of course. The economy is the response to the key environmental challenges that the world is already facing today. It is meant to reduce the dependence on natural resources, transform manufacturing, promote sustainable production of renewable resources from land, fisheries and aquaculture and their conversion into food, feed, fiber, bio-based products, and bioenergy while growing new jobs and industries. We propose that resources are managed in a way that preserves their value and energy, thereby enabling a circular economy as well as reduced costs for public authorities and minimised environmental and health impacts.”

The EU is already a world leader in developing the technology to make renewable, bio-based products but it sometimes struggles to commercialise these in an age of low oil prices and continued high subsidies of the fossil fuel industry. What key measures need to be put in place to ensure the transition away from a linear and towards a circular, renewable economy helping us meet our GHG emissions reductions targets?
“First of all, incentives should be given both to business and consumers to promote renewable and bio-based products. The creation of a secondary raw material market, with guarantees, is hence crucial to break the commercialisation blockade and access the market. Moreover, good product design and eco-design are a prerequisite to ensure a real transition to a circular economy; as it allows for embodied energy to stay in the system for longer effectively preserving the value of materials and enabling a circular economy that is resilient, creates local jobs and does not harm people. Where products cannot be reused, repaired, disassembled, remanufactured, recycled or composted they should be redesigned or progressively phased out from the market.
“Additionally, we can learn a great deal from examples of best practice. For example, between 2011 and 2015 the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country almost doubled recycling rates in five years and made investing in an incineration plant obsolete. Gipuzkoa is living proof that a transition towards a circular economy system of resource management is possible.”

 

Piernicola Pedicini

Piernicola Pedicini, 
European Freedom and Direct Democracy Group (EFDD)

Interview with Piernicola Pedicini,

European Freedom and Direct Democracy Group (EFDD)

Mr Pedicini is a medical physicist and healthcare Director by background. As MEP, he is a member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee, a substitute member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and coordinator for the EFDD political group.

Who, in your opinion, will be the “winners and losers” in the transition towards a circular economy?
“EU citizens will be the main winners of the transition towards the circular economy in terms of better health and environment where we live. The benefits are several, starting from better information on the environmental footprint of products which would allow consumers to make informed choices.
“In a circular economy, plans of obsolescence are phased out and citizens will not end up with broken products just after the end of the warranty period. The circular economy will incentivise producers to design longer-lasting products which are easy to repair and recycle. The whole society will benefit from that as new green jobs will be created.
“Producers will also be winners in this transition as the circular economy will boost a market for secondary raw materials, creating better access and decreasing their production costs. I would say that the only losers in this process will be those companies who want to continue extracting and exploiting resources in a linear economy, such as fossil fuels companies.”

Do you see a role for the bio-economy within the circular economy? If yes, where do you see links do you between the two systems?
“The bio-economy sector certainly plays an important role in reducing Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels. Because of its potential, new technologies and processes for the bio-economy with a high sustainability potential should be promoted. The bio-economy can provide for resource-efficient products and materials which are key to a circular economy, for instance, sustainable wood can be used as a substitute for non-renewable materials.”

The EU is already a world leader in developing the technology to make renewable, bio-based products but it sometimes struggles to commercialise these. In an age of low oil prices and continued high subsidies of the fossil fuel industry what key measures need to be put in place to ensure the transition away from a linear and towards a circular, renewable economy helping us meet our GHG emissions reductions targets?
“In order to enable the transition towards a circular economy, the first most urgent measure to take is to eliminate all environmentally harmful subsidies, such as those to the fossil fuel sector as well as funds to incinerators.
“According to a study from the International Monetary Fund, in 2015, the EU spent €330 billion on fossil fuel subsidies. The same study highlights that eliminating subsidies in 2015 would help governments save €2,9 billion (corresponding to 3,6% of GDP), cut CO2 emissions by over 20% and reduce premature deaths due to air pollution by 55%, thereby saving 1,6 million lives.
“Other essential measures to ensure the transition towards the circular economy are targets and indicators to measure resource consumption and the carbon footprint of products. Ecodesign standards are also essential to ensure that all products are resource-efficient, easy to reuse, repair, recycle and dismantle. The current revision of the waste legislation will be critical to improving waste management and towards establishing a waste hierarchy.
“Measures to improve waste prevention and reuse activities are also needed, along with a progressive phasing out of incineration and of the landfilling of waste.”

Nils Torvalds

Nils Torvalds, 
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Interview with Nils Torvalds,

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

Mr Torvalds is a Swedish-speaking Finn who has previously worked as a broadcast journalist and writer. As MEP, Mr Torvalds is a member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee and a substitute member of five other committees including those on budgets, fisheries and economic and monetary affairs.

Who, in your opinion, will be the “winners and losers” in the transition towards a circular economy?
“I wouldn’t pick ‘winners and losers’ as such in this transition. The concept of the circular economy isn’t actually new but is inherently logical: the need for efficient use of resources is still there, especially in a business perspective. All of us could benefit from a more circular way of thinking. We should, of course, bear in mind especially the administrative effects of the transition to a circular economy – it should be easy, not burdensome, to do the ‘right’ thing.”

Do you see a role for the bio-economy within the circular economy? If yes, where do you see links do you between the two systems?
“Most definitely. The meaning of ‘bio-economy’ is something that easily changes depending on who you ask – what is the bio-economy? There are a lot of technological (and environmental) breakthroughs out there, which are definitely contributing to the transition to a more circular economy. The link between ‘bio’ and ‘economy’ has been made, which many times can be beneficial. However, we should be careful about what we mean with ‘bio’ and what we use the brand for.”

The EU is already a world leader in developing the technology to make renewable, bio-based products but it sometimes struggles nevertheless to commercialise these. In an age of low oil prices and continued high subsidies of the fossil fuel industry what key measures need to be put in place to ensure the transition away from a linear and towards a circular, renewable economy helping us meet our GHG emissions reductions targets?
“Clear, long- term and stable frameworks – both political and economic – are essential. Because the legislative work is often slower than product or market development we, as legislators, have to be careful not to lock in solutions. This is, of course, demanding, as it is difficult to legislate for the future without exactly knowing what the future will look like.”

Published by Renewable Matter , edited by Joanna Dupont-Inglis.

Renewable Matter

 

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!

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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!

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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.