The online multi-stakeholder event brought together experts from different sectors (public, private and non-governmental) to address and raise awareness on the most important issues concerning transition from linear towards circular economy (CE) that aims at sustainability, low carbon emissions, resource efficiency and competitiveness. The workshop was opened with the remarks by Ms. Astrid Schomaker, Director at the European Commission DG Environment and Mr. Lawrence Meredith, Director at the European Commission DG NEAR as well as high level speakers of the Beneficiaries: Ms. Sandra Dokić, Assistant Minister of Serbia, Mr. Danilo Mrdak, State Secretary of Montenegro and Mr. Mirza Hujić, Assistant Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The aim of the workshop was to share the EU’s policy initiatives and practical measures for the development of CE in the frame of the Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan. Advice and guidance as well as practical examples were shared in order to support CE development in the Beneficiaries. The workshop was divided into 6 sessions and addressed the following key issues:
Session 1 Transition towards Circular Economy
- EU policies and measures to advance the CE: The European Green Deal, and the new Circular Economy Action Plan (European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform),
- A case study from Hungary regarding regulatory, economic, policy and social/information based measures to advance CE,
- The benefits of circular procurement,
- New Industrial Strategy for Europe.
Session 2 Prevention and improved management of plastic waste in Circular Economy
- EU policies and measures to prevent plastic waste and to improve its management, incl. the recent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the measures that are being taken to turn them into opportunities,
- A case study from Austria on preventing plastic waste and to improving its management, incl. prevention and recycling of plastics, both single-use and long-lived plastics.
Session 3 The circular economy in the construction and the demolition waste sector
- CE in the construction sector: a new vision for a sustainable Built Environment,
- Construction and demolition waste with case studies of business sector.
Session 4 How can businesses make the CE a reality by implementing circular business models?
- CE for small & medium size enterprises (SMEs) and consumers, choosing circular business models or circular products and services,
- Best practice examples of circular business models in the EU (EEA Report ‘Business Models in a CE’, 2021)
Session 5 Preventing and improving management of packaging waste
- Making packaging more circular, the upstream innovation mindset (Ellen MacArthur Foundation guide to packaging solutions),
- Preventing plastic waste in Europe with best practice examples from Finland, Switzerland etc.,
- Extended Producer Responsibility measures to improve the management of packaging waste: case studies from the EU Member States.
Session 6 Preventing and improving management of food waste
- EU policies and measures to prevent food waste (Farm2Fork Strategy)
- Good practices in food waste prevention from Sweden (Final results of the REFRESH Project),
- Case study of Serbia on application of CE model in the production of mineral fertilizers.
Participants of the workshop came to conclusions and recommendations:
- we shall rethink the way of how plastics should be designed to be reused which requires transition toward Circular Economy of plastic ideas without pollution and waste,
- through CE waste packaging should be reduced with possibility to recycle it easier,
- the construction sector is responsible in the EU for over 34% of total waste generation and about 10% for total greenhouse gases emissions which is why it’s very important to find the new ways and use already developed ways to reuse the construction materials to reduce the climate impact,
- over 20% of food is lost in the EU. It is crucial to reduce to minimum the food loses among food production and food supply chain.
Finally, the cost saving potential and positive impact on environment of the CE are not sufficiently known. In this respect the workshop gave participants the good examples of environmental, health, economic and employment benefits of the transition to CE.