Circular economy: Hot topic in Southern Europe

All over Europe, cities have realised that their linear economies need to transform and the positive consequences this would bring for both citizens and businesses. While signatory cities of the Circular Cities Declaration (CCD) in Northern Europe have impressive track records with circular economy initiatives, several partner cities all over Europe are creating innovative projects to share knowledge and integrate circular economy strategies into their urban policies.

Regarding trends in circular economy in Europe, Kaitlyn Dietz, Officer for Circular Economy at ICLEI Europe says,

We see a great acceleration in circular economy implementation projects at the local and regional scale all across Europe – a very welcome and necessary development to respond to the climate crisis, while supporting the local economy and wellbeing, which has become all the more relevant in covid recovery. Moreover, actions are increasingly taking a systemic and strategic approach, integrating pilot demonstrations into a wider picture of resource management and sustainable lifestyles.

In Portugal, ICLEI Members and CCD signatories, Águeda, Braga, Guimaraes and Torres Vedras, are integrating circular economy in their public procurement practices, offering composters and recycling bins to citizens, developing and implementing green waste valorisation, and promoting behavioural change among citizens for more sustainable consumption.

In the Balkans, ICLEI Member Tirana (Albania) has been working on initiatives to open up public spaces, increase pedestrian and green areas and add bicycle lanes in order to promote a healthier and more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. In the Metropolitan Forest, two million trees will soon be planted around the city in a ring of parks, forests, and agricultural land. In Bulgaria, ICLEI Member Burgas is working together with market players on the Blue Label Standard, which will soon be awarded as a mark of quality to restaurants and entertainment, and other businesses in order to reduce the use of disposable plastics.

The Slovenian ICLEI Member cities of Maribor and Ljubljana are utilising the circular economy as a tool to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals. Ljubljana aims to maintain the value of its resources for as long as possible through reuse, restoration, and recycling, which not only saves, but improves local society and the environment. The City of Maribor takes a more systemic implementation approach with the establishment of WCYCLE Institute, a public sector joint platform for the development of the circular economy.

Further north, Procura+ Member and Hungarian capital Budapest is generating electricity from sewage sludge and food waste at local sewage treatment facilities. The City is also investigating the possibility of turning the huge quantity of collected green waste into biogas and energy for local usage.

These cities highlight that progressive circular and sustainable policies are no longer the sole domain of early adopter cities in the North.

Circular actions can vary widely in sector and scope, but share the underlying objective of eliminating  waste and creating value by making good use of existing resources. The community of 59 CCD signatories – from small towns to capital cities, covering all corners of the continent – continuously inspire one another with replicable, scalable solutions” says Dietz.

To find out more about the CCD and the latest actions by its signatories, visit here.

 

Source: sustainable-procurement.org, 01/09/2021

Recommended reading: The benefits of a sustainably managed supply chain

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