Circular economy has become one of the key elements to fix the current environmental situation and to solve many of the problems we face as a society. The excessive use of resources, the increasingly shorter lifecycles of products or the generation of too-much-waste can be alleviated by applying the principles of circular economy, which seeks to give a new life to already-used products and thus expand their useful life.
This management model has been arousing much interest in recent years and has won the support of many market players, including companies and public bodies. The European Union has linked objectives and has put in place measures that strengthen the circular economy. Governments of the EU member countries are also doing so.
In the case of Spain, the government is working on the development of the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy, “under the coordination and leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment and the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, in collaboration with the rest of the ministries involved, the autonomous communities and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces”, as can be read on the website of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.
Last September, the then Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Isabel García Tejerina, signed an agreement to promote circular economy in Spain through fifty organizations. The former Minister also sought to reduce the use of non-renewable resources, boost the useful life of products, promote sustainable consumption and improve waste management, among other goals.
Therefore, public bodies are beginning to ‘seriously’ work to implement the principles and benefits of circular economy. Although the development of strategies and generalized principles is now at its peak, no work had been done in this area until now. The different Spain’s Autonomous Regions have already passed different plans in this area and have already put in place measures to strengthen circular economy and/or some of its goals.
Circular economy, region to region
The current state can be discovered by reading the report “Situation and Evolution of the Circular Economy in Spain”, which was prepared by the Cotec Foundation in 2017 and which is, for now, the most complete report on which is the situation of the circular economy implantation in the country.
In general, concluded the study, the jump to a circular economy could have great benefits for Spain, as the first regulations have already been having. Between 2008 and 2013, the national consumption of materials fell by almost 50% and the generation of municipal waste has also fallen. However, not everything has been positive numbers in recent years. Between 2005 and 2008, the economic crisis meant a fall of a 601% in investment for protecting the environment in the industrial sector.
Starting from different indicators linked to circular economy and taking into account that most of the initiatives are still in an incipient plan and very linked to the final phase of the economic cycle, the study indicates that the situation is diverse and different in each country they are applied in. By autonomous communities, the situation is also diverse.
Given that there is no state policy yet, the situation in the Autonomous Regions depends on the work that has been done in each one of them. Catalonia, the Basque Country and Andalusia have regulations and strategies that are either directly linked to circular economy or cross-cuttingly. Other autonomous communities stand out in specific points. For example, the Basque Country has a reference eco-design plan and Galicia has been the pioneer in using public purchasing to boost innovation and the competitiveness of industries.
But, in general terms and as we read in the report, “a proper strategy in terms of Circular Economy is only found in the Basque Country and in Catalonia “.