CIRCLE project ends with the final conference

On April 10, CIRCLE final conference was held to share CIRCLE results and reflect upon them in a broader societal discussion on the development of the circular economy. The international event gathered 62 participants from 12 countries. The conference provided insights on various economic, social, ethical and political aspects of the circular economy.

Several common topics emerged from the speakers’ presentations and discussions.

Waste as an untapped resource: The revaluation of “waste” as a resource lies at the heart of the circular economy. Speakers highlighted the diverse bioresource residues generated in agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture that can serve as secondary bioresource inputs for the production of new and high-value-added products. Many real-life examples demonstrated circular business initiatives in practice. However, there is still a lack of knowledge about bioresource residues in the primary production sectors, their availability, application, and technological solutions to reintroduce them into the production cycle.

Collaboration: Collaboration among stakeholders, sectors, or countries was emphasized as a prerequisite for developing the circular economy and establishing circular practices. However, challenges such as reaching a common understanding, consensus on interests, and fair distribution of benefits undermine collaborative efforts. Stakeholder networking, knowledge and experience-sharing platforms, private and public partnerships, research and business collaboration, and international coordination were identified as useful tools for facilitating collaborative governance and the development of the circular economy.

Meaningfulness: The transition towards the circular economy requires meaningful engagement with circular practices rather than simply following formal top-down prescriptive solutions. Meaningfulness also entails stakeholders taking responsibility for the environmental impact of their practices and perceiving and receiving benefits from circularity. However, there are still knowledge gaps regarding the economic, social, and environmental outcomes of circular economy initiatives. Poor awareness of the interlinkages between societal and natural systems and limited knowledge about environmentally friendly solutions keep stakeholders in the linear path dependency.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.