From waste to resources – driving the circular economy

Margaret P Bates

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review


As populations grow we are facing concerns regarding future resource risks and uncertainties. In 2011 nearly one third of profit warnings issued by FTSE 350 companies were attributed to rising resource prices [1]. Our global ecological footprint is expected to grow to more than two plant Earths by 2030 [2]. There is therefore increasing International pressure to use our resources more sustainably and to increase the transition to a Circular Economy. WRAP [3] define circular economy as an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. A 2015 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report estimates that by 2030, a shift towards a circular economy could reduce net resource spending in the EU by €600 billion annually, bringing total benefits estimated at €1.8 trillion per year -once multiplier effects are accounted for [4]. To bring about a Circular Economy we need to rethink how we use and value our resources, innovate in the way we access products and services and find ways of using things for longer. The EU has realised the imperative of the Circular Economy and as part of it’s Circular Economy Package has set a number of Challenges and targets [5] • EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030; • A common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030 • A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% 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 harmonised 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; • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (eg for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles). Alongside the legislative drivers there are a number of research projects that have been undertaken to provide businesses with the evidence and confidence to rethink current linear business models and make them more circular. REBus - Pioneering resource efficient business models (REBMs) for a circular economy – an EU Life+ funded project worked with UK companies to help them transform to profitable, resilient and more resource efficient business models. The business models piloted were • Products as services • Hire and leasing • Incentivised return and re-use • Longer life Each REBM was applied to a range of sectors and those from one of the fast moving sectors that of electrical and electronic goods will be presented. The benefits and barriers will be discussed. REBM are only a part of the business models that can be adopted to transform businesses to a more circular approach. In the minds of many people the key sustainable wastes management activity is recycling, despite not being at the top of the waste hierarchy – in either economic or environmental terms. Despite efforts around waste prevention activities and reuse, recycling will be vital to ensure better resource use and widespread adoption of the circular economy. PolyCE is an EU Horizon2020 project that is addressing the challenge of transforming the lifecycle of e-waste plastics to a more sustainable one by reducing the use of virgin materials and enhance the use of recycled plastics in new applications. Initial results and challenges from this EU wide project will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2018
EventEurasia 2018 Waste Management Symposium (EWMS2018) - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 3 May 2018 → …


ConferenceEurasia 2018 Waste Management Symposium (EWMS2018)
Period3/05/18 → …


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