In a recent post at Adjacent Government, the European Union’s Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella elucidated the three benefits for European nations in adopting a circular economy approach. Observing the dire need for reform in the world’s developed economies, Vella noted the increasing pressure brought about by the rising population, growing by 200,000 every day, which makes the prevailing models of heedless consumption perilously unsustainable. This calls for a revolution in our production chain, one which values the resources used in the production by ensuring their thorough utilization and capitalizing on their full economic value.

As a corrective to this model Vella proposes a new circular model for our economy, one where products are designed to last for as long as possible, easily repaired, and disposed of in ecological fashion. Vella notes that studies of the effects of such a shift have repeatedly found considerable economic benefits, some suggesting savings of as much as €600 billion across EU businesses, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4% annually, and contributing to a rise in employment in across all skill levels. Furthermore, a circular economy drives innovation in cleantech and low-carbon technologies which will lend European companies a considerable competitive edge as the demand in these industries rises across the world.

Vella suggests that the first steps in this crucial transformation should be taken in waste management, improving recycling methods across the EU with a particular focus on reducing food waste, aiming to halve food waste by 2030. However, this is only the first step, reaching a fully circular model requires rethinking production processes from the outset, beginning with design and extending through production to sales and distribution models.

The EU is lending its support to he realization of this, utilizing funding programs such as the European Structural Investments Funds, the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program, and working closely with the European Investment Bank.

Read Commissioner Vella’s post at Adjacent Government for examples of businesses leading the way in reforming their production processes and further detail on funding opportunities.

 

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