Circular economy is a great business opportunity. Still, many barriers persist. Some companies managed to overcome them to take practical steps towards the transition.
To identify the main enablers and barriers to the transition towards a circular economy, CSR Europe organised a stakeholder dialogue on January 17–18 to gather insights from a wide range of actors
This discussion highlighted the main commons challenges faced by the private sector, as the following:
1. Difficulty in creating economic value out of circular products due to the very low price of virgin materials. Current circular business-models are not profitable. For this reason, policy-makers need to address this issue by discouraging the use of virgin materials and promoting a market for secondary raw materials.
2. Trade-off between performance and circularity. More investment in research and innovation is needed to solve the technical limitations of products recyclability.
3. Lack of harmonisation/enforcement of the EU regulatory framework. EU policy-makers should: remove legislative inconsistencies across EU Member States; eliminate regulatory barriers preventing the use of circular resources.
4. Lack of demand from the consumer side (especially if circular products are more expensive than “regular” products). There is a need to implement awareness campaigns to encourage circular consumption patterns.
5. Lack of financial resources and safe spaces where to demonstrate the product validity beyond the pilot phase. There is a need to provide access to finance, especially for SMEs, through EU funding (Horizon 2020, structural funds, etc.) and national investments.'
3 companies taking steps towards circularity
Canon established closed loop systems since the 1990s and is now a leader in the remanufacture and recondition of printers and copiers.
Inditex is leading the transformation of the textile industry by partnering up with competitors and suppliers to create reusable fibers and establish product take-back channels.
Coca-Cola recently pledged to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can it sells globally by 2030.