Our economy is in major transition. Global challenges, climate change and biodiversity loss, forces us to find new, sustainable solutions. Circular economy is one solution to solve these wicked problems.
The aim of circular economy is to minimize the use of pristine raw materials, to reduce dependency in critical raw materials, to minimize the waste, and to circulate the valuable raw materials in use as long as possible. These all are also highlighted in various European commission’s proposals under the Green deal initiative.
Circular economy has significant benefits for climate change mitigation. Carbon footprint of products from recycled materials is drastically lower, and simultaneously the other benefits to the environment are significant. Circular economy is not only recycling the wastes, but it is more industrial symbiosis and the utilization of the side streams to more added value products to replace fossil-based materials. These practices are already in place, all over the EU and globally. To boost this development, EU has a wide range of instruments for municipalities, RDI and business.
Avoiding and minimizing the waste is top priority in waste hierarchy. This principle should be implemented in business, public sector and in private households.
Europe’s industry, especially electrical and electronic equipment’s, is dependent on import from outside EU. Critical raw materials are rare, and mining causes significant environmental impacts. Recycling of electronic wastes and the technologies enabling urban mining are crucial to achieve independency in critical raw materials.
For smart recycling and reuse, we still need information and initiatives. The potential in sharing economy is underutilized – in the future we don’t have to privately own all the equipment’s, but we can also share and borrow them. These together with other innovations also can create new business and boost regional economies.
Regions have a significant role to boost circular economy. It is not only strategic level regional roadmaps, but also projects, campaigns, and support to RDI that boost this work. EU-wide cooperation via projects is essential for mutual learning – what works in Finland can work in Spain and vice versa.
We have a lot to learn from each other!