Circular economy can reduce waste

If, in Europe, 95% of disused mobiles were collected and recycled, it would be possible to save 1 billion euros in production costs. This is just one of the results come out from the research Towards a circular economy: a programme for a no waste Europe, which the European Parliament has been undertaking for the last two years. This research foster the transition from a linear to a circular economy. This means intervening in all the value chain phases, from raw materials extraction to products design, from goods production to distribution and consumption, from repairing, re-manufacturing and reuse to waste management and recycling.

The communications to EU member states shows that new growth and occupation opportunities can derive from such a transition. An innovative design, better and more resistant products, more efficient and eco-sustainable processes, forward-looking entrepreneurial models and technical progresses for transforming waste in resource would all contribute to an increase in efficiency. Better connected politics, a smart regulation, an active support to research and innovation activities are, though, required. This would release investments and attract funding, motivating –at the same time – consumers’ participation and a deeper involvement of enterprises.

In 2014, the objectives were recycling 70% of urban waste and 80% of packaging scraps by 2030, and forbidding inserting recyclable materials in landfills starting 2025. The procedure, adopted in December 2015, has an integrated approach, which includes actions aimed at promoting circular economy in several areas: plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and demolition, biomasses and bio-based products. Nevertheless –as shown in the dossier by the European Parliamentary Research Service – such objectives were then reviewed, lowering them: dispensations for five States have been introduced, the objective of increasing resources productivity by 30% by 2030 was deleted and the desirable one of reducing food waste by 30% by 2025 do not appear anymore. That’s a real shame. A total transition toward a circular economy, in fact, could lower pressures on the environment, with positive effects on ecosystems, biodiversity and human wealth. For example, the complete fulfilment of objectives in waste management would reduce sea pollution by 27%, by 2030. It could also increase energy supply security, since EU is currently importing – in raw materials – half of the resources it consumes. In addition, enterprises could save on materials costs between 250 and 465 billion euros per year (i.e. from 12% to 23% according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation), besides taking advantage of organizational and product innovation. As far as occupation is concerned – and according to the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) study – activities connected to circular economy (e.g. reparations, waste and recycling, rental and leasing) are already employing at least 3,4 million people. By 2030, the circular economy spread could bring forth from 1,2 to 3 million new jobs in Europe and reduce the unemployed of about 250,000 to 520,000 persons. All these objectives are to be added to the next review of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Circular economy can reduce waste

Una vita biodinamica
a cura di Giuliana Zoppis

Circular economy can reduce waste

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È lo spazio dedicato al biodinamico, condotto su La Raia.it da Giuliana Zoppis, architetto e giornalista specializzata nei temi ecodesign, bioedilizia e sostenibilità socio-ambientale.
Dopo numerose esperienze editoriali (Rizzoli / Corriere della Sera, Giorgio Mondadori / AD-Architectural Digest Italia e Mondadori) e televisive (Rai 2, Il Piacere di Abitare), collabora con le testate D e Dcasa, La Repubblica, Ottagono, Ambiente Cucina, Il Salvagente. È nell’Osservatorio ADI Lombardia e nell’Atelier dell’ Innovazione ADI. Dal 2006 è consulente per la comunicazione online di Zanotta. Nell’autunno 2006 ha fondato con Clara Mantica il primo circuito per la promozione dell’ abitare sostenibile Best Up.