The transition from a linear to a circular economy in Europe is a very demanding task. In the various documents of the Circular Economy Package, extensive reference is made to studies commissioned by EU institutions. However, the considerable body of university research into resource management all over Europe and beyond has hardly been taken into account.
This is where the Circular Economy Coalition for Europe (CEC4Europe) comes in: What started out in early 2015 as an informal exchange of ideas among scientists and researchers from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, and later the Norway, Switzerland and the UK, all dedicated to resource and waste management, became later the CEC4Europe initiative.
Encouraged by the EU CEP, the coalition came together to answer a central question: How can we move towards an effective and efficient state-of-the-art circular economy? In other words, what can scientists and resource management experts do to support the EU institutions in their endeavour?
"A systematic analysis of our future raw material needs and all relevant secondary raw material sources is needed so we can achieve the common goals of the circular economy – environmental protection, securing of raw materials, economic benefit, and growth – in an effective and efficient manner, based on scientific evidence."
"Taking far-reaching economic and environmental policy decisions with an insufficient data basis would be speculative and not in line with the CEP objectives."
To this end, CEC4Europe focuses on the development of a strategic portfolio approach of current and future raw material needs as well as secondary raw material sources in different industries far beyond consumer goods and municipal waste. This way, we can set sector-specific targets and appropriate measures to achieve the goals of the circular economy: protecting the environment, securing raw materials, generating economic benefit and promoting qualitative growth.
We strongly believe that the transition to a circular economy requires:
- a sound scientific knowledge base on future raw material needs with respect to quantity, quality, and feasibility to allow an evaluation of the real potential of the circular economy
- systematic research of secondary raw material sources beyond consumer goods and municipal waste, including the accumulation of anthropogenic raw material stocks in infrastructure and the built environment
- harmonize definitions and monitoring methods
- realistic targets for recycling and recovery, based on cost-benefit analysis
- cutting red tape
- recycling and recovery
- reaching current recycling levels in the Member States before raising targets
- implementation periods that consider regional constraints
- appropriate policy approach for post consumer waste and commercial/ industrial waste in conjunction with removal of barriers for recycling and recovery and incentives for investment and innovation