MEPs warn that the ‘take-make-dispose’ economy must end and call for measures against greenwashing and false environmental claims. In order to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable and fully circular economy by 2050, MEPs have called for clear policy objectives in the EU. The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, with 66 votes in favour, six against and seven abstentions. The plan, which was published in March 2020, is one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal and includes initiatives along the entire life cycle of products from design to consumption.
Our lives often follow a linear path. We buy something, throw it away when we’re done with it, and that’s where too many stories end. This pattern leads to a lot of waste. If we want to combat this wastefulness, it’s time to start living life in a circle. Completing the circle means taking the waste and turning it into something new. This circular approach to life is exactly what Circle by Norm is all about.
Herriot-Watt University has announced the launch of a research project aiming to create new materials from residual waste leftover from recycling. The project involves a £250,000 Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funded by Innovate UK and the Scottish Funding Council. Herriot-Watt will partner with Brewster Bros, a Livingston-based recycling business, with an aim of further developing Scotland’s approach to a circular economy. Part of the project will look at recycled clay which can account for up to 25 per cent of the output produced when excavation waste is recycled via a washing process. This by-product commonly ends up in landfill. Herriot-Watt confirmed that the project will also include the creation of a hazardous soil treatment centre, the first of its kind in Scotland.
The World Bank predicts that global annual waste generation will have reached 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050. That’s almost a 75 percent increase on the 2 billion tons we generate today. Building a circular economy will play a crucial role in reducing this forecast. Here, Mats W Lundberg, head of sustainability at global engineering group Sandvik, looks at why circularity needs to be considered from the initial design process; otherwise, it’s already too late. Product lifecycles traditionally follow a linear economy, where materials are transformed into products that are then used and thrown away in a ‘take-make-waste approach. This is unsustainable. The primary principle of a circular economy is keeping assets in use to create a responsible way of using resources while reducing waste. Circularity is crucial in closing the loop of product life cycles.
A major research programme encompassing 34 universities and 200 industry partners has been launched to catalyse the UK’s shift to a circular economy. The National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research (NICER) programme is supported by a £30 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment. The programme is delivered in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), to ensure research outcomes contribute to delivery of government policy.