Global progress towards the transition to a circular model
Transition to a circular model

There is no need to continue justifying the need to change the current economic model. In a context in which we have tripled resource extraction since 1960[1], with forecasts that by 2050 there will be 9.5 billion people, 3 billion of whom will belong to the middle class[2], it is necessary to move forward together to reduce the risks involved, the so-called risks of a linear economy.

Resource scarcity, supply chain supply problems, rising commodity prices, incremental waste generation and the associated environmental impact are some of the risks we face if we continue with the current production and consumption model.

Since last December 2, 2015, when the European Commission launched its Plan "Closing the loop: an EU action plan for the circular economy" to accompany companies and consumers in the transition to a more solid and circular economy, numerous actions from the public and private sector have not ceased to emerge. The figures provided by the European Commission support the opportunity for companies to move towards this new economic model: an 8% increase in the annual turnover of European Union companies, net annual savings of 600 billion euros, a 1% increase in European GDP and a boost to innovation and the development of new technologies.

In almost two years, major progress has materialized in the five priority sectors defined in this Plan (plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and demolition, and bioeconomy) and the four action areas (production, consumption, waste management and the conversion of waste to resources), which are summarized in the Plan's progress report presented earlier this year.

At Forética we have witnessed the drive of the private sector in our country to move forward in line with Europe's objectives towards this new model. This has led to the launching this year of the Circular Economy Action GroupThis has led to the launch this year of the Circular Economy Action Group, which has been joined by nine large companies: Ecoembes, Endesa, Gas Natural Fenosa, IKEA Ibérica, ING, LafargeHolcim, Nestlé, OHL and Unilever. This group was created as a business leadership meeting point in Spain, which held its launch meeting in early September and is already preparing its next milestones: generating knowledge about the business case for each sector, working together with the most important national stakeholders and giving visibility to the actions already being implemented by the member companies.

This group could not come at a better time, just when Spain is developing its Circular Economy Strategy, which was born as a joint initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA) and the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO), as a key element to promote the change towards a sustainable development model.

And beyond Spain and Europe, the transition is also advancing with the help of global reference organizations such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).. During its annual meeting, which this year took place in Mexico City from October 16 to 18, and which Forética attended, they presented the progress of the business working group on circular economy, Factor10. The purpose of this platform is to become a space for knowledge, develop circular solutions that generate opportunities for companies and amplify their voice at a global level .

To this end, three areas of work have been considered: the development of circular economy implementation metrics, support for public policies and sectoral analysis, for which tools are being developed such as the Circular Economy CEO Guide, the Circular Economy Professionals Guide, the Circular Economy Network(Market Place Hub) and the Guide for the Implementation of Circular Solutions, which is currently being developed together with the Boston Consulting Group.

And continuing with the global vision, I would like to highlight the excellent opportunity that the transition to a circular economy model represents for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), from a business point of view and for the Region. Our stay in Mexico also allowed us to learn first-hand about the actions being carried out by companies operating in LAC thanks to the workshop on circular economy held in the context of CSR Innolabs, an initiative developed by Forética and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its Office of Strategic Alliances.

Some of the best practices that were shared included the promotion of waste2energy flows for the use of waste to generate energy, the reuse of water for mining and agriculture, initiatives for recycling PET, cardboard and other materials, promoting inclusive recycling, and the reuse of sludge as fertilizer and biofuels, among others.

On the other hand, the opportunity that the circular economy represents for the improvement of productivity, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, to encourage public policies that promote business innovation and regulatory frameworks on materials recovery and recycling, as well as to generate an impact on the community, was highlighted.

This global review allows us to be optimistic about the future of the transition and encourages us to continue working to take advantage of the first opportunity since the industrial revolution to change our production and consumption model and create a fairer world.

[1] Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), August 2017. World Economic Forum

[2] 2017 Revision of World Population Prospects

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