Circular Economy concept is here to stay. And it is that every time it is clearer that, if not, the whole planet could have an irremediable problem. Previously, we told how PlasticsEurope had come into action in this regard. The business association representing active polymer manufacturers in the plastics sector in Europe published the report “The circular economy of plastics – A European vision” last June.
That same month, the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy (EEEC), “España Circular 2030”, received the green light. Council of Ministers approved the plan that lays the foundations to leave behind the linear economy model. The intention is to move towards a new one in which the value of products, materials, and resources are maintained in the economy for as long as possible; minimize the generation of waste, and take full advantage of those that are inevitable to generate.
Objectives for a “Circular Spain” in 2030
To execute “Spain Circular 2030”, successive action plans will be carried out every three years. In them, the specific measures to be developed by the General State Administration to implement actions in the circular economy in Spain will be collected. The first will be presented at the end of this same 2020 and will cover the period 2021-2023.
Together, action will be taken to meet (or get as close as possible) to the following objectives.
• Reduce national consumption of materials by 30% concerning GDP (with 2010 as the reference year).
• Decrease waste generation by 15% (compared to 2010).
• Reduce the generation of food waste in the entire food chain: 50% reduction per capita at the household and retail consumption level and 20% in the production and supply chains as of 2020.
• Increase reuse and preparation for reuse up to 10% of the municipal waste generated.
• Improve water use efficiency by 10%.
• Reduce the emission of greenhouse gases below 10 million tons of CO2 equivalent.
The calculations that indicate that Spain needs more than double its surface to supply the needs of its economy are a clear alarm of the urgency of achieving these objectives. Because, beyond the disastrous environmental impact that it means, the conclusion reflects, at the same time, the clear inefficiency of the current model and the notable dependence on the outside, which is not infinite either.
Sectors and policies for change
To achieve these objectives, the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy is endowed with a transversal character. However, six priority sectors are identified: construction, agri-food, fisheries and forestry, industrial, consumer goods, tourism, and the textile and clothing sector.
Regarding key policies to advance the circular economy, the strategy indicates as essential the economic, industrial, tax, employment, R + D + I, consumption, water, agricultural, and development policies of rural areas.
Ultimately, the challenge is to prepare the labor market for the transition to this new low-emission, circular economic model. On the one hand, from the perspective of workers, adapting their capacities and abilities to the new market demands through active labor market policies. On the other hand, from the perspective of companies and Public Administrations, adapting the business culture to the principles of corporate social responsibility and guaranteeing health and safety conditions in the jobs affected by the change to the circular economy.
Besides, all this must be done in a way that allows companies to be efficient without incurring excessive burdens, improving their productivity, capacity to contract, their investments, and their opportunities for internationalization.
Circular Economy to counteract the new crisis
The adoption of the EEEC was foreseen in the Declaration of Climate and Environmental Emergency approved in January 2020 and covers the main international initiatives in environmental matters, such as the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development or the Paris Agreement on climate change.
However, in the unexpected scenario to which the global COVID-19 pandemic has led us, the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy stands as a lever for economic recovery. A real challenge that will require the collaboration, participation, and involvement of the entire society.
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