Circular Economy - Silver bullet for the EU's competitiveness and sustainability

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Climate, Energy & Sustainability
Circular Economy - Silver bullet for the EU's competitiveness and sustainability


Businesses need to appreciate the economic case for recycling, reusing and remanufacturing materials so that the circular economy can take off in Europe, according to Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness.

“We must enable businesses to see a profit if they move to the circular economy model,” he said in a ‘Conversation with’ Friends of Europe on 25 January. “The market economy is the best friend of the circular economy.”

The discussion focused on the Circular Economy Package, released by the Commission in December, which aims to make Europe a global centre for sustainable and environmentally-friendly industries, reduce dependence on raw materials and create new jobs. Measures such as waste prevention, Ecodesign and re-use could enable EU businesses to make net savings of €600bn and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4%, the Commission has said. The initiative will be supported by an array of EU financing tools, ranging from the Horizon 2020 budget to structural and strategic investment funds.

“If we get this right in Europe, we could be leading the world in it,” said moderator Tamsin Rose, Non-Resident Fellow at Friends of Europe.

The Commission’s proposals start with ambitious targets to reduce waste. By 2030, 65% of municipal waste and 75% of packaging waste is to be recycled across the EU, with a maximum of 10% of all waste disposed of by landfill.

One proposal is to ban landfilling waste divided for separate collection, as is frequent with plastic and materials left over from demolition. “This is the case with most packaging materials, so the packaging sector is probably an issue where we can go further the fastest,” Katainen said. “The biggest challenge is often how to organise separate collection. But in some member states, glass recycling is nearly 100%, so why put any glass in landfill? Member states could share best practices.”

Read our report ‘Circular economy – Silver bullet for the EU’s competitiveness and sustainability?’ below, which discusses the benefits of ecodesign, where funding should come from, and the public sector’s role.



The debate will focus on the European Commission’s new Circular Economy Package and its implications for Europe’s competitiveness and sustainability.

  • What does the new package promise and how does it address Europe’s competitiveness and sustainability needs?
  • Will the proposed measures be enough to make a sound shift in business models and consumer behaviour?
  • What barriers are still blocking the scaling up of circular economy practices in Europe?
  • And what can Europe do to mainstream the circular economy across the world?

IMAGE CREDIT: CC / FLICKR – World Economic Forum



Registration of participants


Photo of Tamsin Rose
Tamsin Rose


Show more information on Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose is a facilitator who was until recently a senior fellow for health at Friends of Europe. Having studied international relations, she has 25 years of experience working across the European continent from Ireland to Mongolia. A natural communicator, Tamsin has been a radio reporter, worked on press for the EU Delegation in Moscow and is currently a member of the external speaker team for the European Commission Directorate-General for Communication, describing how the EU works and key policies to visitor groups from around the world. Since 2002, she has specialised in public health and public participation issues, serving as the Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), and providing strategic advice for health groups on how to engage successfully with the EU.

Photo of Jyrki Katainen
Jyrki Katainen

President of The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, former Finnish prime minister and former European Commission vice-president

Show more information on Jyrki Katainen

His main objective as Sitra President is to be able to generate new ideas to aid decision-makers in society and private companies, and to try and test new operating models. He has a special interest in transforming the market economy so that it complies with the principles of circular economy and sustainability.

Katainen’s career has been focused on analysing change in society, searching for solutions and making decisions. Before his appointment as President of Sitra, Katainen was European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. Prior to that, he has held the positions of Prime Minister of Finland and Finance Minister. During his 15 years as a Member of the Finnish Parliament he was Chair of the Committee for the Future, among other appointments.


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