CIRC4Life Webinar on incentivizing new circular economy business models

3 December 2020

On 20th October 2020, our partner CEPS organised a webinar called “How to encourage consumer engagement in the circular economy”. The event gathered 70 participants including representatives from national governments, EU institutions, NGO’s, academia and businesses.

Drawing on the results of CIRC4Life, which implements circular economy business models in different value chains, this event presented examples of circular business models and discuss how to engage consumers in circular practices as their buy-in is key to unlocking the potential of new circular approaches.

A welcome was given by Vasileios Rizos, Research Fellow & Head of Sustainable Resources and Circular Economy from CEPS who gave an overview of the topic and introduced the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and its focus on consumer empowerment. He highlighted that despite expressed willingness to act sustainability, this often does not materialize into action.

On October 14, 2020, our partner CEPS organised a webinar on “Incentivizing new circular economy business models”. The event gathered 154 participants including representatives from the industry, academia, policymakers and civil society.

Drawing amongst others on the results of CIRC4Life, the event presented examples of circular business models, discussed barriers and enablers, and importantly the role the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan can play in accelerating towards a circular transition.

Professor Daizhong Su, as the Coordinator of CIRC4Life, gave an introduction to the CIRC4Life project including an overview of its objectives, which are to develop the three circular economy business models (CEBMs) based on: 1) co-creation of products and services, 2) sustainable consumption, and 3) Collaborative reuse/recycling. The three CEBMs cover the whole product life cycle, and are supported by an eco-cost/eco-credit scheme, ICT platform, traceability technique and living labs. The approach is demonstrated in four industrial sectors, including meat supply chain, vegetable farming, recycle and reuse of computer tablets, and industrial/domestic lighting.

The keynote presentation was delivered by Paola Migliorini, Deputy Head of Unit, DG Environment, of the European Commission. She reminded the audience of the challenges that the Circular Economy Action Plan is tackling; growing amounts of waste, loss of biodiversity, low levels of industrial recycling and the environmental impact of resource extraction. An overview of the Circular Economy Action Plan was then presented with the 35 different actions addressing the entire life cycle of products in seven key value chains. She reminded the audience that around 80% of the impact of a product is determined in the design phase and it is therefore crucial to act on the way products are designed through product requirements on durability, reusability, upgradeability and repairability.

Francesca Poggiali, Public Policy Europe Coordinator, GS1 held a presentation on the role of digital twins related to the discussion on sustainable products and how this can be done at scale. She also introduced the concept of Circular Data as a first step in the transition from a linear to a circular economy and underlined the need for the development of scalable data architecture based on a common data language to ensure interoperability. She hopes that the Commission is taking into consideration the already existing open standards on the market developed by industries on product identification and data sharing.

Principle Design Engineer, Kosnic Ming Ma and a partner in CIRC4Life, introduced the two circular activities they are implementing as part of CIRC4Life for industrial lightning: the leasing service model and the modular design solution. He described the objective of modular design is to reduce waste by allowing each module to be replaced when not functioning and extending the product lifetime. He then provided a detailed explanation of the leasing model and the structure of the multi-parties leasing contract covering the different stakeholders involved (end-user, wholesalers, contractor, manufacturer and maintenance). He also provided the audience with an illustration of the pricing model of the leasing service which covers the repairs parts, cost of goods, profit on goods, installation cost, maintenance fee and the payback plan option. He also explained how Kosnic is currently working on developing a sensor system for their industrial lighting which will enable predictive maintenance of the products. Lastly, he gave his input on what is needed in terms of policy support to promote such a leasing service: 1) tax incentives for R&D to expand on modular design and 2) fiscal interest-subsidised loan for lessors or for end-users.

William Clark, Bioeconomy Policy Analyst from Zero Waste Scotland held a presentation on circular food systems and the role of protein. He argued that it is necessary to change the way we produce and consume protein to be able to tackle issues related to climate change. He gave an overview of national protein strategies aimed at ensuring the viability of domestic agricultural industries and presented their common features. He also showed that circular food systems do not only mean new food, but also new solutions and gave examples of products developed from regenerating fungus and algae. Circular food systems are not just about capturing nutrients, but also to be inspired by nature to create new solutions.

Lastly, the panel was able to interact with the audience by asking a question through Slido. The question asked was “what can policymakers do to incentivize a circular economy?” Extended producer responsibility was the most popular option among the 30 participants who submitted their answers, while Ecodesign and economic incentives such as taxes came as second and third choices for what policymakers can do to incentivize a circular economy.

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For more information, a summary of the event and the presentations are shared on the event page here.