Fertilizing Europe’s Circular Economy

Productive fields in Altenhasungen, Hesse, Germany, June 18, 2008 (Photo by Evelyn Berg) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Productive fields in Altenhasungen, Hesse, Germany, June 18, 2008 (Photo by Evelyn Berg) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 13, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Negotiators from the European Parliament, Council and Commission have just reached political agreement on new EU rules for fertilizers proposed by the Commission in 2016 as a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Package.

The Package consists of a 2015 EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy that establishes a concrete and ambitious program of action, with measures covering the whole cycle – from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and a revised legislative proposal on waste.

The proposals will contribute to “closing the loop”of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy, the Commission said in a statement.

The new rules will facilitate opening the EU Single Market to organic and waste-based fertilizers.

The agreement also introduces limits for cadmium and other contaminants in phosphate fertilizers. This is intended to help reduce waste, energy consumption and environmental damage, as well as limit the risks to human health.

Jyrki Katainen, vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said, “Unlike traditional fertilizers which are highly energy intensive and rely on scarce natural resources, bio-waste fertilizers have the potential to make farming more sustainable.”

“These new rules will also help to create a new market for reused raw materials in line with our efforts to build a circular economy in Europe,” said Katainen.

Spreading fertilizer, Bergen, The Netherlands, March 21, 2009 (Photo by Jon Anderson) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Spreading fertilizer, Bergen, The Netherlands, March 21, 2009 (Photo by Jon Anderson) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Under the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, the Commission called for a revision of the EU regulation on fertilizers to facilitate the EU-wide recognition of organic and waste-based fertilizers.

The sustainable use of fertilizers made from organic waste material in agriculture could reduce the need for mineral-based fertilizers, the production of which has negative environmental impacts, and depends on imports of phosphate rock, a limited resource.

Under current rules, only conventional, non-organic fertilizers, typically extracted from mines or produced chemically, can freely be traded across the EU. Innovative fertilizing products produced from organic materials are outside the scope of the current fertilizers Regulation.

Their access to the EU Single Market is therefore dependent on mutual recognition between Member States, which can be difficult due to diverging national rules. Such products have a competitive disadvantage which hampers innovation and investment in the circular economy.

The Commission points to estimates that show if more bio-waste was recycled, it could replace up to 30 percent of non-organic fertilizers.

Currently, the EU imports around six million tonnes of phosphates a year but could replace up to 30 percent of this total by extraction from sewage sludge, biodegradable waste, meat and bone meal or manure.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, commissioner for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, said, “The new EU rules will open up new market opportunities for innovative companies producing organic fertilizers and create new local jobs, provide wider choice for our farmers and protect our soils and food. At the same time we are also making sure that our European industry will be able to adapt to the proposed changes.”

Mineral fertilizer is defined by a set of numbers with hyphens describing the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, the NPK ratio. 15-15-15 fertilizer is a fertilizer that contains equal parts of each element. November 1, 2012 (Photo by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

Mineral fertilizer is defined by a set of numbers with hyphens describing the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, the NPK ratio. 15-15-15 fertilizer is a fertilizer that contains equal parts of each element. November 1, 2012 (Photo by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) Creative Commons license via Flickr.

The agreement on the Fertilizing Products Regulation will open the market for new and innovative organic fertilizers by defining the conditions under which these can access the EU Single Market.

The Regulation will provide common rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for all fertilizers to be traded freely across the EU.

Producers will need to demonstrate that their products meet those requirements before affixing the CE mark, a certification symbol that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.

The Regulation for the first time introduces limits on toxic contaminants, including a new 60 mg/kg limit for cadmium which will be further reviewed four years after the date of application.

This is intended to guarantee a high level of soil protection and reduce health and environmental risks, while allowing producers to adapt their manufacturing process to comply with the new limits.

To encourage the use of even safer fertilizers, producers will also be able to use a low-cadmium label applicable to products with less than 20mg/kg cadmium content. These rules will affect those fertilizers that choose to affix CE marking.

A manufacturer who does not wish to CE-mark the product can choose to comply with national standards and sell the product to other EU countries based on the principle of mutual recognition.

On November 21 the industry group Fertilizers Europe released its Vision report defining the pathway for the evolution of the European mineral fertilizer industry to 2030.

The report, “Feeding Life 2030: The European Fertilizers Industry at the Crossroads between Nutrition and Energy,” lays forth a long-term vision for the industry.

The report aims at answering a key question – how to meet future food needs of a growing population in a more energy and environmentally efficient way, while at the same time meeting growing demand for clean energy and better use of resources.

Jacob Hansen, director general of Fertilizers Europe, said, “Under the right legislative framework, the fertilizer industry could play a vital role in the context of the EU’s ambition to lead sustainable agricultural production and to maintain a strong industrial base while at the same time shifting towards decarbonized economy.”

From the industry’s perspective, mineral fertilizers perform a fundamental role, feeding almost half of the global population. While globally undernourishment remains a major issue, Europe’s efforts are increasingly focused on enhancing the sustainability of agricultural practices.

“Digitalization of agriculture, new fertilizing products and better advice offers the prospect of meeting future food needs more sustainably. Applying more knowledge per hectare is what will drive the improvements in the fertilizer industry and in the entire agricultural sector,” said Hansen.

Feeding Life 2030 points out that the mineral fertilizer industry is a highly competitive global industry. “Large amounts of fertilizers are traded between continents and competition between producers is fierce. Policy-makers need therefore to pay attention to the competitive situation of the European industry,” for positive development to take place, the report states.

“Our Vision for the evolution of fertilizer industry is very ambitious. In order to deliver on its Vision, we call for a policy framework that supports farmers in optimizing the use of fertilizers, as well as enables the industry to continue to excel in the production of fertilizers while retaining its international competitiveness.”

The preliminary political agreement reached Wednesday by the European Parliament, Council and Commission, in so-called trialogue negotiations, has been confirmed by the Member States’ representatives and is now subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council.

Once approved, the Regulation will be directly applicable in all Member States and will become mandatory in 2022.              


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What Rubbish! Europe’s New Waste Rules

Tagged wheelie bins in London, England, July 16, 2017. (Photo by Tee Cee) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Tagged wheelie bins in London, England, July 16, 2017. (Photo by Tee Cee) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

STRASBOURG, France, May 1, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Parliament has formally approved higher recycling targets and new measures to reduce waste across Europe.

Environment ministers from all 28 EU countries are expected to approve the agreement in the coming weeks. Their approval must be secured before the new laws can officially be transposed into national legislation within 24 months from that moment.

The Parliament’s vote comes four months after the same laws and targets were agreed by the European Commission, Parliament and EU governments.

Under the new measures, EU countries will be required to recycle at least 55 percent of their municipal waste by 2025, 60 percent by 2030 and 65 percent by 2035.

Other approved measures include a 10 percent cap on landfills by 2035, mandatory separate collection of biowaste and stricter schemes to make producers pay for the collection of key recyclables.

Recommendations include economic incentives for reuse, deposit-return schemes, food donations and the phase out of subsidies that promote waste.

In addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic, new provisions for separate collection, including of bio-waste, will boost the quality of secondary raw materials and their uptake.

Hazardous household waste will have to be collected separately by 2022, biowaste by 2023 and textiles by 2025.

“After lengthy negotiations with the Council, we have succeeded in bringing home a great result that lays new foundations for sustainable European economic and social development,” said lead MEP Simona Bonafè of Italy, a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

“Member states will be obliged to follow clear and common measures on the life cycle of raw materials and waste disposal,” she said.

“The package, in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development objectives, also reduces food waste by 50 percent and aims for a 65 percent recycling threshold by all member states. A battle that will make the economy of the Old Continent one of the most virtuous in the world,” Bonafè added.

The new package of laws and targets is a key element of the Circular Economy Action Plan the European Commission adopted in December 2015.

Environmentalists wanted the agreement to do more, but they say now it’s time to activate the new measures.

Said Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau, a coalition of more than 140 environmental groups, “Cities across Europe have already made steps forward to reduce waste and improve recycling. The new laws could have been more ambitious, but their successful implementation will help governments consolidate this progress with benefits for the people and society as a whole.”

“After years of discussions, it is now time for EU countries to walk the talk on waste reduction,” said Barczak. “These laws are necessary to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues such as pollution in our cities and environment.”

The Dublin Waste-to-Energy Plant, locally referred to as the Poolbeg Incinerator, is a waste-to-energy plant serving the Greater Dublin Area. The facility was designed to process 600,000 tonnes of waste per year and produce 60 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to heat 80,000 homes. The plant took its first delivery of waste on April 24, 2017. (Photo by William Murphy) Creative Commons license via Flickr

The Dublin Waste-to-Energy Plant, locally referred to as the Poolbeg Incinerator, is a waste-to-energy plant serving the Greater Dublin Area. The facility was designed to process 600,000 tonnes of waste per year and produce 60 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to heat 80,000 homes. The plant took its first delivery of waste on April 24, 2017. (Photo by William Murphy) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Weaker Waste Incineration Rules

A three-year process to update EU environmental standards for waste incineration plants could be about to lead to new rules that most currently operating facilities already comply with.

The latest draft even weakens some key protections compared to existing guidelines, reveals a report published April 18.

The EEB report, “A Wasted Opportunity? EU environmental standards for waste incineration plants under review” also contains a scorecard revealing the position taken by national government representatives during the drafting process.

While the Netherlands, Sweden, Austria and Belgium are commended for their efforts to raise standards, Germany, the UK, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and the Czech Republic are condemned for their efforts to weaken the new rules.

EEB technical expert Aliki Kriekouki, who has taken part in working group meetings that provided advice to those drafting the rules, said, “People in Europe expect the EU to have the world’s best environmental standards, yet after three years of work to update the rules for waste incineration, we’re stuck with a proposal that makes some progress but falls short of boosting the deployment of effective, readily available technologies that prevent or minimise harmful pollution.”

More than 80 million tons of waste is burned in Europe every year, which campaigners warn is incompatible with the aim of moving to a circular economy, where waste is prevented and products reused or recycled.

“For air pollution, maximum emissions levels have largely remained unchanged, with the levels of some critical pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and mercury being raised compared to the existing guidance. Sadly, especially for people living near these plants, it’s a clear cut case of one step forward, two steps back,” said Kriekouki.

Waste incineration plants are responsible for toxic emissions of health-harming substances including dioxins, heavy metals and particulate matter known to cause respiratory diseases, cancers, immune system damage and reproductive and developmental problems.

The EEB report calls for a tightening of levels for the emissions of key pollutants to air and water. It demands that current flexibilities be removed and that exceptions be tightened or erased. It also recommends that certain techniques be made compulsory and that the requirements to monitor harmful emissions be strengthened.

The EU sets minimum binding standards for industry as part of the Industrial Emissions Directive. Standards documents are known as BREFs. Along with industry and Member State representatives the EEB takes part in a consultation process that informs the European Commission while drafting these standards.

The current draft proposals for an updated Waste Incineration BREF to replace the last one adopted in 2006 have been under development for almost three years and will likely not need to be complied with until 2024.

This agreement further strengthens the “waste hierarchy” by placing prevention, re-use and recycling clearly above landfilling and incineration.

MEPs say managing waste in a more efficient manner is the first step towards a circular economy, where most if not all products and materials are recycled or repeatedly re-used.



Going Circular By Design

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Graphic image by Wee Viraporn, Thailand.

HELSINKI, Finland, June 15, 2017 (Maximpact.com News ) – “Circular material use and smart products design hold a promise of substantially reducing the environmental burden of production and consumption, but it requires fundamental shifts in our resource use patterns,” finds a new report launched at the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 (WCEF2017) last week in Helsinki.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) report published June 6 stresses that circular business models cannot rely on smarter product design alone, but also will require the development of related support services and recycling infrastructure.

In their report, authors Mieke De Schoenmakere of the EEA and Jeroen Gillabel of the research and technology organization VITO, acknowledge that there will be pain as Europe moves from a linear to a circular economy.

“Reconfiguring societal systems requires innovation across a wide range of sectors – from farming to finance,” they write.

“It includes not only development of new technologies, but also of novel social practices and business models, and changing of consumer behavior, beliefs and basic values. This will inevitably create tension and produce a mix of societal costs and benefits, falling unevenly on different groups,” the report states.

The authors conclude, “The creative destruction inherent in entrepreneurial innovation will affect jobs and economic interests, creating conflict and power struggles.”

Currently, product design is based on the linear “make-use-dispose” model of production, which depends on cheap, abundant raw materials and energy. The result is growing environmental problems, such as increased waste, rising carbon emissions and loss of biodiversity.

The circular economy holds the promise of more efficient and sustainable material use. Keys to unlocking this shift are resource efficiency and waste reduction by improving the ability to reuse, repair, or recycle products, which are expected to encourage product design innovations.

The authors suggest that the value of materials and products should be kept as high as possible for as long as possible. This reduces the need for new materials and energy and can lead to lower carbon emissions. It also lowers the environmental pressures linked to the life-cycle of products – from the extraction of raw materials, through the energy used to produce the goods, and their use, to their disposal in waste dumps or incinerators.

WCEFNetworking

Participants in the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 networking at the Marketplace sit on repurposed shipping pallets. June 6, 2017 Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Sari Gustafsson/Sitra) Posted for media use.

Launched at the first-ever World Circular Economy Forum 2017 (WCEF2017) earlier this month in Helsinki, the EEA report ‘Circular by design – products in the circular economy,’ looks at what drives product design and how emerging production and consumption trends can enhance or hinder more circular and efficient use of materials.

All of these issues were explored at the forum, where close to 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries attended plenary and parallel sessions showcasing circular economy solutions for business, cities and finance.

WCEF 2017 was organized by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the Finnish Ministries of Environment, Foreign Affairs, and Economic Affairs and Employment, with seven co-organizers, including the European Commission and the UN Environment Programme.

In an image-based web page summarizing “10 key takeaways” from the forum, Timo Mäkelä, Sitra’s senior advisor on the carbon-neutral circular economy states, “Global use of natural resources threatens to exceed the carrying capacity of our planet. The circular economy offers an avenue to new kind of growth and jobs while saving our environment and its natural resources.”

Reporting on the forum for Sitra, journalist David J. Cord recounted the efforts of the Finnish-Swedish firm Stora Enso to expand what a tree can do.

Stora Enso is a provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper on global markets.

Stora Enso CEO Karl-Henrik Sundström explained that wood can be both recycled and renewed. Stora Enso breaks down wood fibres into separate tiny components which can be rebuilt into new materials. They can be used to create cars, planes or even bottles.

Sundström said, “We can make materials intelligent, like packages that tell us where they’ve been, where they are, what’s inside and if its fresh. We’re even working on solar panels and paper which can store energy – all made from wood.”

Neste Corporation, an oil refining and marketing company located in Espoo, Finland, aims to be the world’s leading biofuel producer in the circular economy.

At the forum, Neste President and CEO Matti Lievonen explained that the company is focusing its raw materials research on waste plastics as a substitute for crude oil in the manufacture of oil products.

“In practice, our business, based on renewable products and circular economics, is eating away at our traditional business operations. This is a sacrifice that many did not believe in at first,” said Lievonen. “But when it comes to the question of what kind of planet we will leave to future generations, the transition to sustainable lifestyles cannot be held back.”

The company already produces enough Neste MY Renewable Diesel, produced of waste and residues, to power more than two million cars for a year. This will enable Neste’s customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by almost seven million tons this year.

Among the most important new raw materials of the future that Neste is interested are residues from the forestry industry, algae, and waste plastics.

All of the sessions at the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 were live streamed, and the video recordings are available on the WCEF2017 website along with a short video summarizing the meeting.

The EEA report finds that although the linear economy may be deeply entrenched right now, emerging production and consumption trends indicate that the role of products in society is changing, with potential benefits for circular material use.

New technologies, such as 3D printing, can reduce the number of materials used in a product and can be used to print spare parts, stimulating the repair of products. Yet, such developments can be a barrier to recycling if the technology leads to complex mixtures of different materials being integrated into one product.

The report does not attempt to evaluate established policy, as set forth in the European Commission’s 2015 Circular Economy Package. Instead, it aims to inform and stimulate future initiatives.


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Achieving Circularity

Armacell foam component

Armacell foam component of the KAFD World Trade Center in the King Abdullah Financial District, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is lifted into place. The façade cladding is built out of advanced composite materials and covers a surface area of more than 40.000 m². (Photos courtesy Armacell)

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, May 12, 2017 (Maximpact.com News) – Companies looking for innovative ways to give the circular economy a spin can check out insulation foams producer Armacell, which is giving PET plastic bottles a second life in wind turbine rotor blades.

Polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, is the most common thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family. It is made into containers for liquids and foods and used in combination with glass fiber for engineering resins.

Headquartered in Luxembourg, Armacell has started up an extrusion line at its Brampton facility in Ontario, Canada to convert recycled PET resin into PET foam for use in the production of wind turbine rotor blades.

Around 75 percent of Armacell’s PET foam makes up the core for the blades, with some 50,000 PET bottles converted to form the core of a single wind turbine.

The first of its kind in Canada, the new extrusion line joins similar Armacell PET foam extrusion lines in Belgium and the United States. Armacell plans to install a PET foam line in China and launch production by the end of 2018.

The company claims its foaming process reduces carbon dioxide emissions when compared with standard PET foaming using virgin resin. The process generates “52 percent less CO2 than PVC foam and 62 percent less than polyurethane foam,” the company states.

The company estimates that its ArmaForm PET is already used in more than 30,000 wind turbine blades globally. Among their many uses, Armacell foams made from PET bottles can also be used for insulation in buildings and ships.

The circular economy is becoming a driving force, particularly in the plastics sector, now that the business community is getting involved.

The New Plastics Economy Initiative was launched in London in May 2016. In January 2017, the Initiative launched the report “The New Plastics Economy – Catalysing Action” at the World Economic Annual Meeting in Davos.

The report sets forth an action plan to increase recycling or reuse of all plastics packaging globally to 70 percent, up from today’s recycling rate of 14 percent.

Led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation , headquartered on the Isle of Wight in the UK, the initiative is bringing together companies, governments, NGOs, scientists, students and citizens to build a global plastics system that works.

The foundation defines a circular economy as one that is “restorative and regenerative by design, and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.”

“A circular economy is a continuous positive development cycle that preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields, and minimizes system risks by managing finite stocks and renewable flows,” the foundation says.

Focusing on designing better plastics packaging and creating circular material streams, Excelrise, KKPKP, Nestlé, Re-Poly, and Schwarz Zentrale Dienste, are joining the active group of stakeholders to increase cross value chain collaboration.

The Initiative’s Core Partners include: Amcor, The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, MARS, Novamont, Unilever and Veolia.

Unilever in January committed to ensuring that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Unilever called on the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry to accelerate progress towards the circular economy.

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, said, “Our plastic packaging plays a critical role in making our products appealing, safe and enjoyable for our consumers. Yet it is clear that if we want to continue to reap the benefits of this versatile material, we need to do much more as an industry to help ensure it is managed responsibly and efficiently post consumer-use.”

Swiss group Nestlé and its French rival Danone are partnering to create a greener plastic bottle. The food and drinks companies are funding Origin Materials, a Californian biotech company to develop plastic made from waste such as sawdust or old cardboard instead of petroleum.

The Coca-Cola Company may have tried to identify itself with the circular economy, but Greenpeace says the company is not doing enough to protect the Earth from its plastics.

On April 10, Greenpeace activists blocked the entrance to Coca-Cola’s UK headquarters in London with a giant sculpture featuring a seagull regurgitating plastic, and demanded that the company do more to help prevent plastic pollution.

The campaign group said the sculpture, which depicts an idyllic family beach scene interrupted by birds choking on plastic, was intended to highlight what it claims are failings by the company.

In a report “Choke – The case against Coca-Cola“released April 10, Greenpeace claimed that Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drinks company, sells more than 100 billion plastic bottles every year. Single-use plastic bottles make up nearly 60 percent of the packaging produced by the company globally, the report says.

“Coca-Cola is always keen to emphasize the importance of recycling to its customers, but is failing to substantially increase the amount of recycled material it uses to make its own bottles globally,” Greenpeace said in its report.

The company refused to provide Greenpeace with a breakdown of how many tonnes of virgin plastic packaging versus recycled

plastic packaging it sells globally each year, but Greenpeace calculates that the company uses just seven percent recycled PET content on average across its global product line.

Coca-Cola says a drop in oil prices reduced the cost of virgin plastic, which made recycled PET uptake a challenge.

Greenpeace said in its report, “100% recycled bottles are feasible and have been rolled out for a number of soft drinks products over the past decade. In 2007, Suntory’s Ribena became the first major UK soft drink brand to use 100% recycled plastic. Then Naya Natural Spring Water started using 100% recycled plastic bottles in Canada in 2009, followed by PepsiCo’s 7Up with 100% recycled ‘EcoGreen’ bottles in 2011. Hong Kong-based brand Watsons Water has offered customers ‘Go Green’ bottles since 2015 and Nestlé’s Natural Spring Water began using 100% rPET bottles in the US in 2015.”

The European Commission has adopted an ambitious Circular Economy Package, which includes revised legislative proposals on waste to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy. The Commission says a circular economy will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

The Circular Economy Package consists of a program of action, with measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials, complete with a timeline through 2030.

The proposed actions will contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy, the Commission says.

The revised legislative proposals on waste set clear targets for reduction of waste and establish an ambitious and credible long-term path for waste management and recycling.

Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:

  • A common EU target for recycling 65 percent of municipal waste by 2030;
  • A common EU target for recycling 75 percent of packaging waste by 2030;
  • A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10 percent of municipal waste by 2030;
  • A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste;
  • Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling;
  • Simplified and improved definitions and harmonized calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU;
  • Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis – turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material;

Finally, a key element of the proposal is economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment and vehicles.


Featured Image: Cola Consumption – Plastic Coca-Cola bottles (Photo by tk-link) Creative Commons license via Flickr

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Firms Flock to Circular Economy 100 USA

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By Sunny Lewis

SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 12, 2016 (Maximpact.com News)

“A circular economy is one that is restorative and regenerative by design,” says Dame Ellen MacArthur.

She has taken a special interest in circular systems. Four years after becoming the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe, a 2005 record that still stands, MacArthur founded the UK charity that bears her name to advance the sustainability that flows from a well-functioning circular economy.

In the latest curve, in March the Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced the launch of a U.S. chapter of its popular international Circular Economy 100 (CE100) program.

CE100 brings together leading organizations such as Google, CocaCola and Apple, with the goal of innovating, developing and implementing circular economy opportunities.

The kick off event for CE100 USA members was a one-day workshop in San Francisco on March 31

Executives from SunPower, Tarkett and Walmart Stores were there. These latest corporate members of CE100 USA will share their expertise in implementing circular economy opportunities and learn from their new associates.

SunPower’s Chief Operating Officer Marty Neese said, “At SunPower, we are the first and only company to offer solar solutions that are as sustainable as the energy they produce by manufacturing Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver solar panels in facilities that are landfill-free and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.”

“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with influential organizations as a member of the international Circular Economy 100, and now here in the U.S. as a member of the CE100 USA, to create a truly regenerative economy,” said Neese.

That’s really what the CE100 does, wherever the chapter is based – member organizations enjoy unique collaboration, capacity building, networking and research opportunities to help them achieve their circular economy ambitions more quickly.

They can even learn from the world’s biggest retailer. Walmart’s senior vice president of sustainability Laura Phillips said, “Walmart is pleased to join Circular Economy 100 USA to share our learnings and learn more from other companies so that we can better engage suppliers and customers in these practices.”

ECOStructure

ECOR biogradable, infinitely recyclable advanced material can be engineered into curves or grids, among many other shapes. (Photo courtesy ECOR Global)

Noble Environmental Technologies is a San Diego, California company, a CE100 USA member and featured innovative technology partner that manufactures design-flexible building panels from the advanced green material ECOR.

ECOR solves waste stream problems by using the discarded cellulose fiber.

Developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ECOR can be made from cellulose fibers from a wide variety of materials: office paper waste, cardboard, recycled denim and other fabrics, hemp, jute, sugar cane bagasse, corn husks, wood dust and trimmings.

When retail giant Walmart decided to commit to zero waste to landfill by 2025, they turned to ECOR. There are currently 300 ECOR display units in Walmart stores across the United States.

Used by architects, designers, furniture and cabinetry manufacturers, ECOR is Cradle to Cradle® certified. Manufacturing, done in Shanghai, produces no waste, uses no chemicals and creates a biodegradable material made from 100 percent recycled content.

There are no adhesives, no chemicals, no formaldehyde, no petroleum – no additives at all.

It’s strong, structurally solid and 75 percent lighter than conventional panel product – an endlessly recyclable alternative to wood, particleboard, fiberboard, aluminum, plastic, cardboard and other composites.

Manufactured with a simple pressure and heat process, old ECOR can be broken down again to the cellulose fiber level and put back through the process to create another batch of the material in an endless circular loop.

This is the kind of company and product that Dame Ellen believes will have advantages in a resource-constrained future.

“The circular economy offers many quantified benefits, and provides a positive way forward for businesses wishing to hedge themselves from market volatility. Our 2013 report Towards the Circular Economy Vol. 2, featuring analysis by McKinsey & Co, highlighted the US$700 billion opportunity in global consumer goods material savings from adopting circular economy practices,” she said.

Take another new member of the CE100 group, Tetra Pak, which makes drinks packaging. The Swiss-Swedish company aims to offer packages entirely made of renewable materials and is already working towards this goal.

Tetra Pak packaging materials are made up of paperboard (73%), plastic (22%) and aluminium foil (5%).

The paperboard is primarily made of materials from sustainably managed forests which carry the FSC™-label. In 2014, Tetra Pak launched its first milk package made entirely from plant-based materials – paperboard and plastics derived from sugar-cane.

Tetra Pak CEO Dennis Jönsson said, “Joining the CE100 programme reflects Tetra Pak’s commitment to maintaining a leadership position in recycling and in the use of renewable materials from sustainably managed sources.”

“For organizations which embrace the opportunities offered by the circular economy, there are first-mover advantages available,” said MacArthur. “The CE100 USA program provides key insight to support organizations in their transition, and to help accelerate their rate of circular economy innovation.”


Featured image: CE100 USA logo from Ellen MacArther Foundation

Main image: Ellen MacArthur Creative Commons license via Youtube: Circular economy a massive opportunity – meet Dame Ellen MacArthur

What is Circular Economy

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(Maximpact.com News)

Citizens of the world have realized that people do not have infinite resources. Demand on raw materials has escalated, with no management of waste and the limited supply we have of those materials. Environmental repercussions of climate change and sustainability are now at the top of the global agenda and are mission-critical.

This article focuses on the circular economy and its benefits to help combat our global problems. European countries, particularly the Nordic ones, have embraced the circular theory years ago and are reaping the benefits of zero waste economies while setting good examples for their neighbors.

What Is Circular Economy?

The concept of circular economy calls for the reuse of materials for as long as this is feasible. These materials should be used to their greatest extent and, when a person is done using said materials, should be able to renew or restore the power of these materials for further use down the line. Besides materials, circular economy may also apply to components and products.

Circular economy is in direct opposition to what is known as a linear economy. With this concept, much less thought is put into the long-term ramifications of use of a material, component, or product. Instead, this material is made, a person uses it, and then they throw away what’s left. This creates a productivity dead-end. Over the years we have become a throwaway society.

What Is the History of Circular Economy?

If any one person created the concept of circular economy, they didn’t promote themselves, because research doesn’t attribute this to anybody specifically. Instead, the move towards a circular economy is estimated to have started in the 1970s and gained momentum as the years went by.

There are numerous models that have led to the development of circular economy as it’s understood today. These are as follows:

  • Regenerative design — Credited to John T. Lyle, the concept of regenerative design is similar to what we know as circular economy.
  • Blue economy — Gunter Pauli of Belgium, who worked as the CEO at Ecover, developed the blue economy, which tells us what is left over from a product could become the basis for a new product and revenue stream.
  • Industrial ecology — Focusing specifically on the industrial field, industrial ecology deals with energy flow and material usage in this area.
  • Biomimicry — Popularized by Janine Benyus, biomimicry involves borrowing successful concepts that have already been used and redesigning them for your own purposes.
  • Performance economy — An early pillar in circular economy, industrial analyst and architect Walter Stahel developed this concept back in 1976. He believed that a circular economy could prevent waste, produce more resources, create competition, and make more jobs.
  • Cradle to cradle — Bill McDonough (an architect from the US) and Michael Braungart (a chemist from Germany) developed the cradle to cradle concept. Simply put, this model seeks to cut back on product waste and embrace more production.

How Can Businesses Use This Concept?

As you’ve seen, while circular economy can indeed apply to the universe itself and preserving finite resources, it can also be used as a business model. Business owners big and small can benefit from the school of thought associated with circular economy. Research has found that tens of thousands of jobs can be made to positively stimulate the economy just by following the circular economy model.

Are You Looking for a Circular Expert / Consultant?

At Maximpact, we can help you find the right circular expert consultant. Maximpact consulting network is a select global network of certified consultants in over 200 sectors and sub-sectors, experience in over 680 projects. All consultants are verified through a certification screening process, so that Maximpact can assist clients in making the best decision in finding the exact skill set they need.

Maximpact offers access to a network of circular, impact and sustainability consultants and experts. No matter the scope of your project or the size of your company, you can receive assistance through all stages of the project development process. Maximpact Ecosystems offers advisory, marketing, consulting, and financial services for sectors like environment, water, clean technology, renewable energy, agriculture, and more. With offices in Hong Kong, California, Abu Dhabi, and Monaco, Maximpact can help you move towards a circular economy.

Green Economies Arising Across Europe

GermanyWindfarm By Sunny Lewis

HELSINKI, Finland, February 4, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A broad political will and the involvement of many different economic and social actors are essential for successful transition to a green economy, conclude researchers from five institutes of the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER).

For their newly published report, “Implementing the Green Economy in a European Context: Lessons Learned from Theories, Concepts and Case Studies,” the researchers studied 10 innovative cases from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

They found that successful projects include a broad range of stakeholders, have strong and consistent political support, and integrate research activities into the implementation of the initiatives.

In his forward to the report, PEER Chairman Prof. Dr. Georg Teutsch wrote, “These case studies were utilized to reveal opportunities, but also barriers and challenges for the transformation into a zero waste, renewable bio- and ecosystem-services-based production system.”

“The project aimed at producing increased understanding about the concepts and foundations for future circular and green economy securing the maintenance of a full range of ecosystem services on which society relies,” he wrote.

Transitions to a green economy are never purely based on win-win solutions, but require trade-offs among multiple goals across many sectors, the report finds.

Reaching a win-win proposition becomes more laborious the more stakeholders and competing interests there are, the researchers explained. “Sometimes win-win solutions were not enough if the alternatives remained more profitable, market structures did not encourage change or stakeholders were not committed.”

Driven to meet growing demands for food, drinking water, timber, fiber, and fuel as well as minerals, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively over the past 100 years than at any time in human history, according to the report.

“These changes are a result of traditional one-way linear economic models: resource – product – waste and may lead to depletion of natural resources and irreversible changes in the environment,” the report states.

Today, civil society, industrial and political leaders are acknowledging the urgent need for reconsideration and revision of this type of thinking.

Greening an economy is being promoted as a new strategy for enhancing human well-being and reducing environmental risk, defined as “low-carbon and climate proof, resource-efficient and socially inclusive,” according to the report.

The PEER report contains conceptual analysis and empirical case studies that indicate the need for far-sighted planning, multi-source financing and wide stakeholder participation in green economy initiatives.

Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä is the largest city in the region of central Finland on the Finnish Lakeland. It was the subject of one of the 10 cases analyzed in the PEER report.

 

 

 

 

The 10 case studies spanned national, regional and local activities.

The two on the national level are:

  • Germany’s energy transition, since the 1980s
  • Increasing the construction of large-scale buildings from wood in Finland, since the 1990s

 

The five regional cases are from France, Finland and Germany. They are:

  • A project to support the implementation of biogas plants in the area of Brittany, France (2007-11)
  • A project to minimize organic waste in the Rennes Metropole region of France (2010-2012)
  •  A project to develop the city of Jyväskylä, Finland into a resource-wise region (2013-2015)
  •  A project to form a network of Finnish municipalities that creates and carries out solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since 2008
  • An initiative to sell certificates on emission reductions to support peat land restoration, since 2010

 

The three local case studies are:

  • An industrial symbiosis initiative in the harbor area of Dunkirk, France, since the 1960s
  • Cooperation between farmers and the water company to improve soil in the Duurzaam region of The Netherlands, since 2013
  • A project on off-shore macroalgae cultivation to promote circular resource management and bio-based production in Denmark, since 2012

 

Lea Kauppi, Director General of the Finnish Environment Institute and a former PEER chairperson.

“As illustrated by the study, the complexity and multi-sectoral nature of the green economy calls for a broad integration of sectors connected to environment, innovation, transport, housing, energy, agriculture and spatial planning,” said Lea Kauppi, director general of the Finnish Environment Institute, one of the five institutes responsible for the report, and a former PEER chairperson.

“The case studies also illustrate the need for comprehensive analysis of the effects of regulation and legislation, as well as the importance of stakeholder commitment, good leadership and coordination,” she said.

The report concludes that transforming the economy requires innovation in terms of technology, organizational support, market and broader societal conditions, and an overarching governance framework, but most of all, a consistent and cross-sectoral political will.

All the PEER partners supported the preparation of the project, and finally five institutes were the active research members: the Finnish Environment Institute, which handled coordination of the project; Alterra Wageningen UR in the Netherlands; IRSTEA – the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture in France; the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in Germany; and the (DCE) Danish Centre for Environment and Energy at Aarhus University.

A biogas plant in the Brittany region of France developed by Hera Cleantech, the environmental engineering division of the Spanish international group Hera Holding.

A biogas plant in the Brittany region of France developed by Hera Cleantech, the environmental engineering division of the Spanish international group Hera Holding.

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main and Featured image: This windfarm in Gemeinde Driedorf, Hesse, Germany is part of the German transition from energy generated from fossil fuels and nuclear power stations to renewable energy. June 2013 (Photo by Neuwieser) under creative commons license via Flickr
Image 01: Lea Kauppi is director general of the Finnish Environment Institute and a former PEER chairperson. (Photo courtesy Linkedin)
Image 02: A biogas plant in the Brittany (Photo courtesy Hera Cleantech)

Closing the Loop: EU Quarrels Over Circular Economy Plan

MEPs2015

By Sunny Lewis

BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 30, 2015 (Maximpact.com News) – The European Commission has adopted a new Circular Economy Package it says will help European businesses and consumers contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use.

But Members of the European Parliament are critical of the new package.

The Commission says its plan will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, encouraging energy savings, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bringing benefits to Europe’s environment and economy.

The changes are needed, the Commission says, because global competition for resources is increasing. The concentration of resources outside the EU, particularly critical raw materials, makes industry and society within the 28 Member States dependent on imports and vulnerable to high prices, market volatility, and the political situation in supplying countries.

The new Circular Economy Package sets a common EU target for recycling 65 percent of municipal waste and 75 percent of packaging waste by 2030.

The plan calls for a binding target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10 percent, with a complete ban on landfill for separately collected waste.

There will be economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment as well as vehicles, among other products.

There are also plans to harmonize the way recycling rates are calculated across the Member States.

The proposals require action at all stages of the life cycle of products – from the extraction of raw materials, through material and product design, the production, distribution and consumption of goods, repair, re-manufacturing and re-use schemes, all the way through to waste management and recycling.

All these stages are linked. For instance, use of certain hazardous substances in the production of products can affect their recycling potential, and improvements in terms of resource and energy efficiency can be made at all stages.

In July 2014, under President Jose Barroso, the Commission adopted a Circular Economy Package that included a proposal for the review of waste legislation in response to the legal obligation to review the targets of three Directives: the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive, and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

Then, on November 1, 2014, a new Commission took office under President Jean-Claude Juncker. In its 2015 Work Programme, the Juncker Commission announced its intention to withdraw the 2014 proposal on Waste Review and to replace it with a new, more ambitious proposal to promote the circular economy by the end of 2015.

Two main reasons motivated this withdrawal.

First, the overall approach presented in July 2014 had an exclusive focus on waste management, without exploring synergies with other policies such as the development of markets for secondary raw materials.

Second, the Juncker Commission wanted to make the proposal more country specific and improve the implementation of waste policy, particularly existing problems of non-compliance.

On December 2, the Juncker Commission presented its new Circular Economy Package to the European Parliament.

The new initiative would establish a framework to overcome past shortcomings and create conditions for the development of a circular economy “with a clear and ambitious political vision combined with effective policy tools that can drive real change on the ground,” the Juncker Commission said.

The Commission said its new package “contributes to broad political priorities by tackling climate change and the environment while boosting job creation, economic growth, investment and social fairness.”

KatainenJyrki

The package was prepared by a core project team co-chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, with the close involvement of Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Karmenu Vella and Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said, “Our planet and our economy cannot survive if we continue with the ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach. We need to retain precious resources and fully exploit all the economic value within them.”

“The circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works,” Timmermans said. “By rethinking the way we produce, work and buy we can generate new opportunities and create new jobs. With today’s package, we are delivering the comprehensive framework that will truly enable this change to happen.”

“It sets a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe with supportive actions that cover the full product cycle. This mix of smart regulation and incentives at EU level will help businesses and consumers, as well as national and local authorities, to drive this transformation,” said Timmermans.

Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said, “These proposals give a positive signal to those waiting to invest in the circular economy. Today we are saying that Europe is the best place to grow a sustainable and environmentally-friendly business.”

“This transition towards a more circular economy is about reshaping the market economy and improving our competitiveness,” said Katainen, a former Finnish prime minister. “If we can be more resource efficient and reduce our dependency on scarce raw materials, we can develop a competitive edge. The job creation potential of the circular economy is huge, and the demand for better, more efficient products and services is booming.”

The Juncker Commission is in partnership with the European Investment Bank to fund the new package.

On December 10, Vella blogged that the partners signed an amendment to the InnovFin Delegation Agreement “that will enable higher-risk, yet innovative sustainable business models and plans to access credit through InnovFin – an EU finance support programme under Horizon 2020.”

Funding of over €650 million under Horizon 2020 and €5.5 billion under the structural funds will suppport the new Circular Economy Package, the Commission said.

“The proposals are a powerful enabling framework, but we will also need substantial private sector funding directed towards the circular economy,” wrote Vella. “The European Fund for Strategic Investment (the ‘Juncker Plan’) is one tool to support this. The Commission would like to also guide future investment, steering it more towards green choices, with progressive divestment from unsustainable activities.”

Vella wrote that the EIB, the Commission and national banks plan to work together to increase awareness of circular economy financing.

But many Members of the European Parliament are not impressed with the new package.

The 65 percent target is a point of contention. Although the Juncker Commission says the new package is far more ambitious than its predecessor, MEPs point out that Barroso’s team wanted to introduce a 70 percent target in 2014.

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German Member of the European Parliament who sits with the European People’s Party group, told the “Parliament Magazine” that the new proposal amounts to “much ado about nothing.”

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats Vice-Chair Kathleen Van Brempt of Belgium said, “This ambitious roadmap needs to be supported by specific targets, and our political group will try to build a consensus in the Parliament to introduce those targets, to make sure the roadmap is accomplished.”

Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, shadow rapporteur on the circular economy with the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, accused the Commission of, “wasting months of work and many hours of parliamentary time.”

“With a weakened waste proposal and an action plan copy-pasted from the 2010 roadmap to a resource efficient Europe, it’s clear the European Commission is failing to deliver on this important agenda for growth and jobs,” the Dutch MEP told the “Parliament Magazine.”

Greens/European Free Alliance Group Vice-Chair Bas Eickhout commented, “While we welcome the fact that the Commission has finally come forward with revised proposals on the circular economy, we are concerned that the plans are undermined by the reduced ambition. This is contrary to the commitment by the Commission for a more ambitious proposal.”

“A year on from the initial decision by the Commission to withdraw its original proposals, we have lost both time and ambition in the push to stimulate the circular economy at EU level,” said Eickhout.

Green environment spokesperson Davor Škrlec said, “It is a major shame that the Commission is not seeking to maximize the potential of the circular economy. We will seek to address some of the shortcomings in Parliament.”

Responding to criticism of the new package, Vice President Timmermans pointed out that the legally-binding 10 percent cap on land-filling was, “completely new” and that the 65 percent target for recyclables was, “an extremely ambitious goal, which for many member states will require a huge effort.”

Key actions under the Juncker Commission’s new Circular Economy Package include:

  • Funding of over €650 million under Horizon 2020 and €5.5 billion under the structural funds;
  • Actions to reduce food waste, including a common measurement methodology, improved date marking, and tools to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030;
  • Development of quality standards for secondary raw materials to increase the confidence of operators in the single market;
  • Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency;
  • A revised regulation on fertilizers, to facilitate the recognition of organic and waste-based fertilizers in the single market and support the role of bio-nutrients;
  • A strategy on plastics in the circular economy, addressing issues of recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the Sustainable Development Goals target for reducing marine litter;
  • A series of actions on water reuse, including a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater.
  • A clear timeline for the actions proposed and a plan for a simple and effective monitoring framework for the circular economy.

Vice President Katainen said, “We will remove barriers that make it difficult for businesses to optimize their resource use and we will boost the internal market for secondary raw materials. We want to achieve real progress on the ground and look forward to delivering on this ambition together with not only Member States, regions and municipalities, but also businesses, industry and civil society.”

LandfillUK


 

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Main image: Members of the European Parliament in plenary session, 2015. (Photo courtesy European Parliament) © European Union 2015 – European Parliament.
Featured image: Naples, Italy struggles with longstanding garbage problems, June 2007 (Photo by Chris Beckett) under Creative Commons license via Flickr
Image 01: EU Vice-President Jyrki Katainen addresses the European Parliament, January 2015 © European Union 2015 – European Parliament. (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives Creative Commons licenses creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Image 02: Landfill at the Selly Oak Battery Park redevelopment site in Birmingham, England, May 2015 (Photo by Elliott Brown) under Creative Commons license via Flickr