The National Economic and Social Council will today release a report which finds that, while there is “momentum” in the circular economy more needs to be done to build upon that momentum.
A circular economy is one in which resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while in use, then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.
Its report identifies 10 case studies of organisations that have embraced the benefits including: A company that reconditions IT equipment; a manufacturer of peat-free compost; a company which disassembles and recycles mattresses; and a firm which converts waste heat available in hot water into energy.
The council said it wants to highlight the opportunities for businesses and social enterprises, while drawing attention to the regulatory and social challenges in facilitating the transition to a circular economy.
Director, Rory O’Donnell, said: “The research shows there are surprising pockets of innovation and some very well-established businesses at the frontier of the circular economy.”
However, the council concluded that the full potential of the circular economy has yet to be identified: “While resource efficiency and minimising waste are integral to a circular approach, it has the potential to be much wider than this. Many governments now see that the circular economy and bio-economy are part of the transition to a low-carbon economy and society.”
The council said strong central policy support is needed to embed a circular economy into national policy priorities, including enterprise, regional, rural and climate action: “A supportive approach to the circular economy in Ireland could help to gain Irish enterprises competitive advantage.”
An EU Circular Economy Action Plan contains 54 measures concerning consumption and production processes and products, in priority sectors including plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, biomass and bio-based products, construction and demolition.
It also includes financial incentives for research and innovation within the structural funds (€5.5bn) and Horizon 2020 (€650m).