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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 19.08.2017, 15:49

Circular economy: opportunities for business

Eugene Eteris, BC/RSU, Riga, 04.08.2017.Print version
The circular economy (CE) offers an opportunity to reinvent national economy, making it more sustainable and competitive. This will bring benefits for European business activity in general and provide new impetus to member states’ economies, businesses, industries, and services.

With the circular economy in mind, the EU member states and the European Commission are willing to take ambitious measures to cut resource use, reduce waste and boost recycling. Such new measures will make Europe’s economy cleaner and more competitive.  

 

Circular economy (CE) is not only for saving our environment and natural resources. It is as well about profit, competition advantages, as well as good opportunities for growth and export. Proceeding along presently dominating “linear economic growth” will reduce EU’s economy by 7% and each household by 11% in 2030. Bottom line: changing old economic paradigm is a must! 

 

In most EU member states, government advising bodies recommend taking necessary steps to transform old-aged development models. Conclusions are generally along the same lines: old production methods, so-called linear approach, which is “rounding” three aspects: production, consuming and disposing are both devastating for global and national economies, while reducing huge available potentials in growth and competition. 


CE’s concept and perspectives

Circular economy, generally, is about saving, sharing and re-using those resources and materials involved in production in order to economically dispose/re-process so-called wastes as long and as far as possible. Such approach is definitely good for environment, but even more for progressive economy with fewer resources involved.

 

Experts say that nature needs 1,5 years to recover what global economy uses during a year; some countries are using too much ... For example, according to British think-tank Ellen MacArthur Foundation, if the EU member states follow the linear economic methods, average European family will lose about 11 per cent of income by 2030 and EU’s economy will shrink by 7per cent (Politiken, Kroniken Section, 25.06.2017).

 

Thus, changing existing development paradigm is a necessity: a modern state shall re-think the ways it designs, produces and consumes along circular economy (CE) guidelines. And the sooner countries will do this, the better!

 

Most challenging are CEs issues for small countries, like the Baltic States with educated work force and limited resources. Main perspective is closer cooperation between public and private sectors along new CE methods and decisions with new investment opportunities. Certainly, business community and politicians have to be adequately informed along new “circular way of life”.     

 

Managing wastes is becoming a priority: average Danish household produces about 600 kg of wastes a year; it is much smaller in, e.g. Germany. Worst is that only small share of wastes is utilized, most is incinerated: less than half of the wastes is processed or/and managed in Denmark while about 65% in Germany. Total wastes’ “burden” in Denmark is almost constant at the level of 11 million tons/year during 2013-15, while household wastes increased from 40 to 46 per cent; however, about 72% of industrial wastes is additionally used.

 

Thus, perspective is clear: non-waste production, as waste is always an important resource: examples are numerous, from recycling plastic bottles, to re-used textile wastes for isolation; to re-using old PCs, tablets and smart-phones, to various sorts of renewables… 

 

Famous Danish Carlsberg, installed water-saving system that provides for less water consumption, which is going to save millions of water yearly…

 

Hence, Danish CEs strategy is expected to gain extra €60 billion/year and 13 thousand additional jobs.

 

Among another priorities are: extensive re-use of existing mechanisms and tools, as well as recycling all waste materials: glass, paper, textile, wood, metal and scrap… Besides, companies do not pay VAT for using utilized resources! 


CEs ambitions

The Baltic States have to reconsider strategies for public and private sectors’ development up to at least 2030 along the lines of circular economy. CEs requirements and considerations are the urgent ingredients for both economic and political directions. Some Baltic Sea area states, like Denmark have already included into national planning some CE’s aims: increasing resources efficiency by 40 percent, waste management by 80 percent and reducing residual wastes by 15 percent.  It seems ambitious, but not impossible, argued Danish government.

 

These aims could serve as “orientation aims” for other Baltic Sea states.


However, scientific advises are necessary to pave the way to circular economy path; that means the scientific community in the three Baltic States shall be more active in transposing CE’s ideas and practices into national economic development.






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