Circle Economy to discuss global circular value chains at WCEF 2022
We are excited to join circular thinkers and doers at the World Circular Economy Forum 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. Held in Africa for the first time, the forum will shed light on the role the circular economy plays in global value chains, social justice, climate, biodiversity and more. Open and free for everyone online, it will provide food for thought for circular professionals and newbies alike. Read on for an overview of the sessions we will co-organise and participate in.
‘Circular Trade and Value Chains’
African suppliers are too often the lowest-paid actors in global value chains and the first to suffer from the environmental repercussions of rich countries’ overconsumption. How can we ensure the circular economy works for, not against African nations?
This session will explore the possibilities and challenges related to trade and the circular economy in Africa, elaborating on the continent’s role in global circular value chains and intra-continental trade with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Following a discussion on the principles for more just and inclusive circular trade, a panel discussion on electronic waste and tech trade in Africa will take place.
Link to the livestream: https://streaming.wcef2022.com/
‘Circular policies without borders’
The new EU Circular Economy Action Plan uses incentives and requirements to accelerate circular production and consumption. However well-intended, it may lead to trade barriers for some developing countries, which might struggle to comply with the new regulations.
This session will examine the implications of EU circular economy policies for producers and exporters in developing countries. It seeks to answer the question ‘What can be done to maximise the benefits and mitigate potential trade barriers?’ by showcasing policy, trade and finance solutions for the plastics and textile industries in several developing markets.
This event is part of Accelerator Sessions, practice-oriented talks that will link WCEF 2022 with the daily work needed for a circular transition.
Register to participate online: https://www.switchtocircular.eu/events/impact-eu-circular-policies-producers-and-exporters-partner-countries
‘Increasing the circularity of fashion’
The global textile and garment sector is a major emitter of CO2 and consumer of raw materials. Circular business models and designs can lower the negative impacts of the industry by retaining the value of textiles, extending their life cycles and boosting the use of recycled materials.
But how can the fashion industry put this potential into practice? This session will address this question by delving into the required technical, social and business innovations. It will also investigate the necessary shifts in production and consumption practices as well as in policies and education.
This event is part of Accelerator Sessions, practice-oriented talks that will link WCEF 2022 with the daily work needed for a circular transition.
Register to participate online: https://www.switchtocircular.eu/events/reducing-footprint-textile-and-garment-industry
‘Achieving social justice in a global circular economy’
Circularity does not end at national borders. To build a truly inclusive and just economy, businesses and governments must consider the social and economic impacts of circular interventions globally. This online side event held on the 27th of October explored the implications of a circular economy for workers and employers in a globalised economy.
The session discussed the latest paper from Circle Economy's Circular Jobs Initiative, which highlights the role of three key levers to address the oversights and assumptions of prevailing narratives on the circular economy: consider people beyond your borders; trade responsibly; and exchange know-how and means.
Circle Economy launches Circularity Academy to close the green skills gap
Circle Economy, an impact organisation based in the Netherlands, launched Circularity Academy (CAMY) at the Web Summit 2022. CAMYis a gamified e-learning platform to assess, engage, train and activate people to enable the circular transition. Developed in collaboration with Sustainability Games, Circularity Academy addresses the green skills gap: the lack of professionals able to fulfil the rapidly growing demand for circular jobs.
CAMY provides a continuous learning experience composed of journeys and minigames—fun and easy yet in-depth. It is geared towards assessing the circular assets of an organisation or a team, raising awareness about the circular economy, creating collective understanding, developing and certifying circular skills, and tracking progress along the pathway to sustainability. These modular elements can be used separately or all at once, depending on the needs of an organisation.
‘The green skills gap is one of the main bottlenecks for businesses engaged in the circular economy, from multinationals to small firms. With Circularity Academy, we are helping them to manage and assess their team’s knowledge and skills, putting these assets into action,’ points out Marc de Wit, Director Businesses at Circle Economy.
Our experts co-create learning tracks with clients to finetune game experiences according to the industry and team specifics. The result is simultaneous education and engagement for hundreds of people—helping close the green skills gap at scale.
The platform can be compared to a restaurant menu with lessons, minigames and tests for dishes. This allows one to pick and choose tracks and journeys for specific purposes: from a fun activity at an event to a fully-fledged training programme for employees. Learning journeys typically consist of reading materials, videos, questionnaires and minigames, both individually- and team-played. CAMY is well-suited for entities that are just embarking on their circular journey and want to make sure that all people involved are on the same page and equipped with basic knowledge.
‘Circularity Academy is based on 11 years of circular economy research by Amsterdam-based Circle Economy. In addition to conducting research, we develop and pilot circular solutions—and we know what works and what doesn't. Complemented by over 4,800 case studies around the world, the Circularity Academy learning tracks are relatable, understandable and practical. The gamification element makes it fun, challenging and engaging. It is our mission to close the green skills gap to close the global Circularity Gap. This is the second product we’ve launched in line with our strategy to leverage technology to accelerate the global transition to an economic system where the planet and all people can thrive,’ says Ivonne Bojoh, COO & Director Digital at Circle Economy.
Circle Economy believes that businesses around the world, as well as local and national governments, must join hands to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and avoid climate breakdown. Closing the Circularity Gap starts with bridging the knowledge gap. Circularity Academy provides the means to do this on a mass scale, encouraging not just education but also the adoption of circular narratives. The goal of the tool is to educate 100 million people over the next ten years, empowering businesses, cities and nations to go circular.
For further information, images or to arrange interviews, please contact Amy Kummetha at amy@circle-economy.
About Circle Economy
We are a global impact organisation with an international team of passionate experts based in Amsterdam. We empower businesses, cities and nations with practical and scalable solutions to put the circular economy into action. Our vision is an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. To avoid climate breakdown, our goal is to double global circularity by 2032. To find out more, visit https://www.circle-economy.com/impact.
Amsterdam, November 1, 2022 – Circle Economy announces that as of today, Maria Grazia Testa, Circle Economy’s current COO, will step down, handing over her responsibilities to Ivonne Bojoh, currently Director Digital and interim COO. Circle Economy wishes to thank Maria for her gracious and invaluable support to the organisation.
Robert-Jan van Ogtrop, Founder & Chairman of the Supervisory Board: “We thank Maria for her wonderful contribution. Under her guidance, the operations and strategy of our foundation have improved in stability, efficiency, and financial resilience. Great examples of Maria’s contribution are the set-up of a centralised PMO team, a robust reporting framework, and an expansive process library enabling operational efficiency. In addition, she has implemented solid end to end HR, financial and legal structures and processes. Maria leaves Circle Economy in a strong position – both from an operational and a project execution perspective. Together with the management team, Maria has taken Circle Economy to a more professional and stronger performance which ensures the foundation can continue to deliver on its impact goals. We are grateful to Maria and wish her all the best.”
Maria will continue to support and be engaged with Circle Economy as an ambassador for the organisation and as a valued member of its Alumni Community.
Maria Grazia Testa:
”I joined Circle Economy in 2018 when the organisation still felt like a little family on a mission on behalf of Mother Earth, with many trail blazing activities streaming relentlessly from its committed hearts and enviably talented minds. Today the organisation has grown its impact thanks to the scalability at the core of its systemic, scientifically savvy and technically elegant, approach to a theme as central as sustainability. I am very proud that my experience could help bolstering this work with the deserved Strategic and Operational Excellence, and that our strive for continuous improvement has in turn gained the confident collaboration of many partners and funders, gathered around the same mission.
I would like to thank Circle Economy’s team, for their dedication to the SDGs, to the circular economy, to our planet and to social justice. Let’s see together that the vision this planet deserves is accomplished.
My quest to be a multiplier for the good and the brave, leading organisations in transition, cultivating leadership, and magnifying human potential, will continue through my new project, The Best Journey Ever. If you would like to know more, keep in touch or be involved, follow me there.”
In January 2023, Circle Economy, along with its partners, will launch the “Circularity Gap Report" for the 6th time.
Please reach out to our press office at email@example.com if you are interested in featuring the press release and/or have an interview request.
About Circle Economy
We are a global impact organisation with an international team of passionate experts based in Amsterdam. We empower businesses, cities and nations with practical and scalable solutions to put the circular economy into action. Our vision is an economic system that ensures the planet and all people can thrive. To avoid climate breakdown, our goal is to double global circularity by 2032.
Circle Economy presents ways to tackle climate change through the circular economy at COP27
The Circle Economy team is heading to the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. On the 11th and 17th of November, we will be talking about the future of humanity—and why we must go circular. Along with our partners, we’ll shed light on how circular economy strategies align with the climate agenda, as well as how they can contribute to halting climate breakdown.
‘Increasing the circularity of the world economy is a tool to combat climate change. Circle Economy has always been a practice-oriented organisation. At COP27, we are going to share our hands-on expertise to help businesses, cities and nations talk less and act more—providing practicable solutions for their climate transformation,’ notes Circle Economy CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo in the run-up to the conference.
Here is an overview of the sessions we will participate in:
Laying the groundwork for a circular Latin America
A growing economic powerhouse that’s home to a wealth of unique ecosystems, Latin America is at the heart of the global climate transition. To present and discuss the methodology to develop the Circularity Gap Report (CGR) for this region, we will participate in a presentation called 'The Circularity Gap Report for Latin America and the Caribbean: Establishing a regional baseline for the circular economy'. This COP27 event will be held on the 11th of November, from 09:30 to 10:15 EET, at EuroKlima Pavilion and is co-organised by IDB, IDB Invest, UNEP, ECLAC, and Strategic Partners of the Circular Economy Coalition for Latin America and the Caribbean.
This presentation—and corresponding project—is part of our Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative. This Circularity Gap Report aims to enable national stakeholders in Latin America to better understand opportunities for change and the benefits of a circular economy for the labour market, environmental conservation and climate change mitigation, thus enabling Latin America to be compared with other geographies. The baseline analysis can then serve as a ground for developing more nuanced Circularity Gap Reports for Latin American nations.
Navigating through murky waters of circular indicators
How do governments and businesses track circularity in their value chains and set tangible climate targets? Surprisingly, harmonised and widely adopted circular metrics are still lacking. This makes circular target-setting self-defined, self-serving and lacking accountability, and impedes progress towards net zero. The good news is that public and private circular indicators are taking shape, and beginning to form a coherent framework. The Circular Economy Indicators Coalition (CEIC) will discuss the latest developments in this field at the session 'Linking circular economy progress to climate impact: Guidance for governments and businesses', on the 17th of November, from 14:30-15:30 EET, at the Business Pavilion.
The CEIC is a collaboration between PACE and Circle Economy, in partnership with Accenture. It is aimed at supporting corporate circular target-setting by providing best practice indicators that will enable businesses in various sectors to share the same standards for circularity. CEIC will also equip businesses with tools to define, set and track meaningful circular targets.
A bottom-up approach to green urbanisation
Cities generate the bulk of global GDP and the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions. As the centres of education and innovation, urban areas also hold the keys to green transition, including through the circular economy. Cities Alliance and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability have organised the session 'Tackling urbanisation, climate and poverty in cities through circular economy' to examine how cities can go circular and improve their citizens' livelihoods at the same time. Circle Economy will join colleagues from EMF, Arup, Cities Alliance and ICLEI on stage on the 17th of November, from 14:00 to 14:40 EET, at the Action Hub.
Traditionally, cities have taken a top-down approach: mandating particular policies for their inhabitants, for example. However, we argue that a bottom-up approach is also viable for transforming typical cities into circular cities. Informal settlements and economies can serve as a starting point for circular transformation because circular practices—such as repair and reuse—are already common there. This session will also elaborate on means for cooperation between different economies to ensure more inclusive, sustainable urban growth.
Paving the way to more effective circular finance
Most climate initiatives today focus on the renewable energy transition and boosting energy efficiency—yet research shows that 70% of greenhouse gas emissions stem from material use and handling. This is why the circular economy, which cuts industrial emissions, is instrumental in achieving climate goals. Yet, despite a growing appetite for circular investment, financiers struggle to make informed decisions and still view circular projects as risky. As of today, circular investment lacks a unified assessment standard and understanding of the potential value and risk.
To address these challenges, we co-formed the Financial Institution Circularity Exchange Network, which includes international financial institutions (IFIs), private banks and non-profits and is supported by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands. At the EIB/Benelux Pavilion, on the 17th of November, from 17:30 to 19:00, we will present the brainchild of this collaboration: the ‘Circular finance roadmap for international financial institutions'. It proposes a series of concrete steps to unlock the potential of IFIs to fund the circular transformation. With this proposed agenda, we hope to motivate major finance organisations to develop a formalised roadmap for more effective investment in the circular economy.
Circular Buildings Coalition launched to scale circularity in the built environment
On the 4th of October, six leading sustainable development organisations launched the Circular Buildings Coalition (CBC), an initiative to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the construction industry. The CBC’s formation was announced during a webinar held by its six founding parties: the World Green Building Council (WGBC), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Ellen McArthur Foundation, Arup, Metabolic and Circle Economy.
The construction industry consumes roughly half of virgin resources globally and accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s carbon emissions and solid waste streams. Embracing circular practices targeted at all stages of a building’s lifespan—from design and construction to use to deconstruction—could help cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the industry’s impact on nature and biodiversity.
As noted by Catriona Brady, Director of Strategy & Development at World Green Building Council (WGBC), ‘We obviously need to create a market that places financial value on materials that we currently consider waste. We want to challenge business-as-usual thinking and look into market credentials that would allow circular materials to compete with non-circular’.
‘The construction sector needs to see circularity as not a problem but a part of the solution. It helps us achieve a more nature-positive, decarbonised built environment’, said Roland Hunziker, Director of Built Environment at World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The CBC will focus on three critical roadblocks that hinder the transition to a circular building environment. These can be broadly categorised as issues relating to finance, ownership models and market dynamics, according to Circle Economy CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo. Real estate financiers still prioritise short-term gains over long-term benefits while developing finance schemes for construction projects, for example. Buildings may also have different owners over the course of their life cycles, often with conflicting incentives: developers, for example, may be interested in building at the cheapest cost, while residents are motivated to pay the lowest energy bills. As of now, ownership models that align all stakeholders’ interests with climate and circularity goals are lacking—and as buildings change hands, information on the materials that have been used during construction is often lost. This impedes future reuse, by concealing building materials’ value and recycling potential from the last owner in the chain. Finally, the market for building materials stagnates: it does not incentivise the use of novel and secondary materials, for example, which are seen as risky: because developers must adhere to strict safety standards, they often prefer to ‘play it safe’ and use virgin materials, notes Lopes Cardozo.
According to Eva Gladek, CEO at Metabolic, maintaining materials’ complexity and value while addressing these issues in a systemic way is key to boosting circularity in the construction industry.
‘The required changes go beyond better waste recycling or reusing materials from buildings; they also require forming new collaborative models’ Gladek points out, adding: ‘We need to create self-replicating solutions, such as business models and incentive structures for projects'.
The founding organisations aim to assess the current systemic challenges in the industry, develop a knowledge base for overcoming them and use their insights to form recommendations for action.
‘Tackling these three key issues won’t solve the problem—but it’ll be a great starting point, and will show that a circular built environment is possible,' concluded Lopes Cardozo.
‘The starting point is to accelerate circular models that are competitive and profitable. At the same time, we need to articulate to policymakers how these models are not only economically superior but superior to the environment and society’, added Richard Boyd, Associate at Arup.
The CBC has committed to the following milestones:
By March 2023, the Coalition members will publish a diagnosis of the current obstacles to the large-scale implementation of circular economy practices in the construction industry— and will invite all actors within the industry to a public event to co-create solutions.
In 2023, the Coalition will provide financial support to initiatives that are helping accelerate the transition to a circular built environment.
In 2023, the Coalition will publish blueprints for best practices that can be replicated by market parties and policymakers, with the aim of spurring the large-scale implementation of circular economy principles.
The CBC intends to grow its reach by inviting new members, financially supporting key initiatives and developing new partnerships. Organisations interested in joining the movement or showcasing their circular solutions are invited to get in touch: https://www.circularbuildingscoalition.org/join-our-movement.
Circle Economy hosts a World Circular Economic Forum Side Event
We need to start thinking beyond borders to achieve a sustainable, circular economy that matches environmental goals with social ambitions.
Today's understanding of the circular economy fails to address issues of global social equity and threatens to exacerbate the divide between high- and lower-income countries, making it clear that a global circular economy will not be socially just by default. To ensure workers aren’t left behind, labour rights are uplifted and social benefits are maximised for all, we need to be proactive.
In this World Circular Economy Forum side event, Circle Economy willexplore how governments, multilateral organisations and civil society, together, can embed social justice in the transition to a global circular economy.
With speakers from the International Labour Organization, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), the Or Foundation and more, we will discuss the role of three key levers in designing circular economy interventions that are fair and just for all—considering people beyond your own borders, sharing means and knowledge and trading responsibly—and will explore what else is needed to tackle the global inequalities that environmental policies can worsen.
Only 8% of used building materials are circular in the Netherlands
With a recycling and reuse percentage of 88%, the Dutch built environment appears to be a circular frontrunner. While the amount of cycled waste sounds impressive, it is mainly used for low-grade applications like road construction, which locks away a potentially valuable resource and downcycles its value. Only 8% of materials used for construction come from materials that have been cycled back into use. The Circularity Gap Report for the built environment in the Netherlands, initiated by Circle Economy and Metabolic, was presented to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management as well as FNV, a national trade union centre and CNV, a federation of trade unions of the Netherlands. The report highlights the pain points, but also concrete solutions, for a more circular construction sector.
Problems are piling up in the construction sector
Many of the major crises in the Netherlands converge in the construction sector: the biggest labour shortage seen in years, the nitrogen crisis, a huge housing shortage, the rapid growth of raw material scarcity, and climate change. The construction sector is the largest consumer of raw materials, accounting for 40% of energy consumption and 30% of water consumption. The sector is working in overdrive and has to pull out all the stops to meet demand; the government expects 75,000 new homes to be built every year until 2025. One of the solutions proposed is sustainable and circular construction, so more can be done with less and raw materials are used more efficiently. However, the construction sector is still only at the beginning of the circular process. Different skills are needed, a different way of dealing with waste and a different way of doing business overall, but how? With four what-if scenarios to turn the tide, the report answers this question.
What needs to change
The report shows that the Dutch construction sector is a lot less circular than it appears to be; only 8% is circular and gets an equivalent or even improved application in the construction process. Still, there is cause for optimism. Jacco Verstraeten-Jochemsen of Circle Economy; “The Netherlands is well prepared to enable the shift to a circular economy. The sector has great initiatives, the infrastructure is in place and a mentality change is underway. But the planned actions are not yet being applied on a large scale.” Circle Economy and Metabolic developed – in collaboration with partners – concrete solutions for businesses, national and local politicians, urban planners and trade unions. Some key solutions the report proposes include:
Invest in human capital. The construction sector employs 685,000 people, but it has difficulty finding new workers and current workers are getting closer to retiring age. In addition, the current workers currently do not have the right skills to shape the transition to be more circular. As many jobs will change towards the circular transition, t and retraining will be necessary, as well as a culture shift towards lifelong learning. It is also important to invest in better working conditions: both financially and in terms of health and safety.
Create a fair playing field. Right now, circular strategies have not yet been competitive with their regular, linear counterparts, as negative environmental effects are not included in the pricing of linear materials and processes. In short: reward solutions with a lower impact on the environment, for example through taxes or other incentives. To make new circular business models possible more investments are needed in the innovation and the labour that is required to build with secondary materials.
About the report
In 2019, Circle Economy published the first Circularity Gap Report (CGR) with the aim of making the circular economy measurable on a global scale. Circle Economy has also applied the CGR methodology at national and regional levels. This research, which was developed in collaboration with Metabolic and C-Creators and with support from the Goldschmeding Foundation and De Hoge Dennen, is the first to analyse at a sector level. The aim of the Circularity Gap Report for the built environment is to provide insight into how circular interventions could contribute to a systemic change in the built environment. Zooming in on one specific sector helps Circle Economy to get a better insight into the transition and the operational and personnel implications and requirements. The aim of this project is to measure progress towards achieving the Dutch goal of being fully circular by 2050. It also explores the potential employment effects of four key strategies to achieve that goal.
You can find out more here: https://www.circularity-gap.world/sectors
Routinely described as the biggest threat to humanity, the climate crisis continues to worsen and impact vulnerable communities. This is according to the latest IPCC report, launching today. But now, tanks are rolling into cities around the world—from Kyiv to Sanaa—posing a much more imminent threat. We cannot post about the IPCC report as we usually would. At Circle Economy, we stand with the people of Ukraine and all those, including in Russia, who resist war.
In the coming days, our colleagues will delve into the IPCC report together to explore how climate adaptation—and our work—can reduce threats to peace. In a world overrun by tragedy, we continuously choose to support the deep systemic shifts needed to ensure all people can thrive.