The circular economy and its challenges in Europe

The circular economy and its challenges in Europe

Kaila and Zabala Innovation organised a webinar on 1 December about the present and future of the circular economy in Europe

The circular economy is a concept that is here to stay, and that all entities will have to join in order to build a more sustainable future. Aware of its importance, at Kaila and Zabala Innovation we organised the webinar ‘The future of the circular economy: how can my organisation position itself in Europe’, to analyse the present and future of the circular economy in the old continent.

The webinar was seasoned by the valuable experience of the technology centres AITEX and TECNALIA and the SME IRIS, and the testimony of the environmental experts of Zabala Innovation Maite Zazpe and Yaiza Tejido and the head of Business Daniel Agudo.

Thanks to the search potential of Kaila, interesting data were shared in the webinar that reflect the growth of the circular economy and the concepts associated with it. This graph clearly shows how the budget allocated by the European Commission to calls for grants related to this topic has been increasing since 2014.

This chart shows the list of the ten European countries with the most participations in projects related to the circular economy, in a ranking led by Spain, Italy and Germany.

This funding map clarifies the hotspots of the geographical areas that have received the most funding to implement projects related to the circular economy.

And we can also appreciate the percentage distribution of the sectors that address more projects related to this concept. The largest item of ‘Other’ includes more cross-cutting or multi-sectoral projects mainly related to policy and political management, governance and awareness raising, as well as projects related to reuse and waste management.

Circular economy, a key issue today

During his intervention, Alejandro Rosales and José Ortega, Science and Technology Manager and Business Development Manager of IRIS respectively, reminded the audience that the concept of circular economy has always existed. “It is what humanity has been doing from the Neolithic to industrial production, because what was a waste for someone became a resource for someone else. The circular economy was exercised by scarcity, not by efficiency, and now we have to incorporate this factor into its exercise”, he analysed.

For his part, Pierre Menger, project manager at TECNALIA, wanted to highlight the transversality of the circular economy and the lessons that can be learned from it. “We participate in the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI), which is the local implementation of systemic solutions, to see how decisions are made, their short, medium and long-term impacts… We can capitalise on what has been done well in national projects and see what lessons can be learned and how to overcome the barriers presented” he argued.

Eduardo Fages, head of G.I. Sustainability and Materials Technology at AITEX, delved into the great opportunities that lie ahead for projects and industries related to the circular economy. “There is a lot of work to be done in the generation of technologies that help the correct separation of raw materials to recover them before and after consumption. In my opinion, there is a lack of tools for generating and transmitting information. Technologically, it is clear that there is sufficient capacity, but this information is not always accessible and this is a major barrier to industrial symbiosis”, he concluded.