«Towards and Eco-Efficient Europe» is one of the seven flagship initiatives within Europe´s 2020 strategy that aims to create a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Today is the main strategy in Europe to generate growth and employment, with the support of the European Parliament and the European Council.
This flagship initiative aims to create a policy framework to support the shift towards an efficient economy in the use of resources and low carbon that would help us:
- improve economic results while reducing the use of resources;
- identify and create new economic growth opportunities and drive E.U innovation and competitiveness;
- guarantee the security of essential resources´ provision;
- fight against climate change and reduce environmental impacts of the use of resources.
This flagship initiative offers a framework for long-term measures and, consistently, others for medium term; among them is already identified a strategy to turn the EU into a «circular economy» based on a recycling society to reduce waste production and use waste as a resource.
Circular economy is an economic concept that interacts with sustainability, and whose objective is that the value of products , materials and resources ( water, energy, ... ) is maintained in the economy for as long as possible and that to minimize waste generation.It is implementing a new economy -not lineal- based on the principle of "closing the life cycle” of goods, services, waste, materials, water and energy.
- Circular economy aspects
Circular economy is the intersection of environmental, economic and socials aspects..
The lineal system of our economy (extraction, manufacture, use and disposal) has reached its limits. We can begin to glimpse, in fact, the depletion of a number of natural resources and fossil fuels. Therefore, the circular economy proposes a new society model that uses and optimizes the stocks and flows of materials, energy and waste and its goal is the efficient use of resources.
Circular economy is creating jobs. Waste management in Spain represents thousands of jobs.
Waste for few become resources for others. The product must be designed to be deconstructed. Circular economy manages to turn our waste into raw materials, paradigm of a system of the future. Finally, this system is a generator of local and non-transferable employment.
- The running of circular economy
Circular economy rests in several principles:
- Eco-design: considers and integrates in its conception the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of a product.
- Industrial and territorial ecology: establishment of an industrial organizational method in a territory characterized by an optimized management of stocks and flows of materials, energy and services.
- “Functionality” economy: favor the use versus possession, the sale of a service versus a good.
- Second use: reintroduce in the economic circuit those products that no longer correspond to the initial consumers needs.
- Reuse: reuse certain products or parts of those products that still work to elaborate new artifacts.
- Reparation: find damage products a second life.
- Recycle: make use of materials founded in waste.
- Valorization: harness energy from waste that can’t be recycled.
- Circular economy actors
Circular economy targets both public actors in charge of sustainable development and planning, and businesses seeking economic, social and environmental outcomes, and society that should wonder about its real needs.
- Circular economy benefits
The development of a circular economy should help lower the use of resources, decrease waste production and limit energy consumption. It should participate equally in the productive reorientation of countries. In fact, besides environmental benefits, this emerging activity is a great job generator (including social economy) throughout the entire region and its development should allow to obtain a competitive advantage in the context of globalization.
Recently, European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik during the 3rd International Economic Forum -Resource efficiency, noted that "it is necessary to transform Europe into a resource efficient economy, if only the efficiency is not enough. Also make sure that once we have used our products, our food and our properties, we selected these materials and use them again and again.” Each year in Europe, an average of 16 tons of materials per person are used to stimulate our economy. And besides, around 6 tonnes per person becomes waste. Moreover, almost half of the waste ends up in landfills.
The integral part of the EU approach for resource efficiency should distance from the linear economy, -where materials are extracted to manufacture the product, use it and eliminate it-, towards a circular economy, where waste and products, from the end of life of used products, go back into the production cycle as secondary raw materials. In short, the use of waste as the main source of reliable raw material is essential for the European Union.
There is a strong economic and business motivation for circular economy and resource efficiency. In fact, the European Commission, as a Body, has adopted resource efficiency as a central pillar of its structural economic strategy Europe 2020.
The relation of good waste management to the circular economy will be a central issue for the Commission in 2014. Since waste is just one stage in the life cycle of products, the Commission will include its proposals on waste in a much broader package on resource efficiency and circular economy.