A new report by SYSTEMIQ, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and sponsored by SUN, has identified ten attractive circular innovation and investment priorities for Europe until 2025, totalling €320 billion. The report was launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2017.
“This new, inspiring report is a useful and timely contribution to help us focus our efforts and resources on the most promising aspects of the circular economy”
Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Shifting towards a circular economy could bring many benefits for growth, employment, resource dependency, health and the environment. In the European Union, this restorative and regenerative model has received support from policymakers, who have committed to implementing a long-term strategy. For investors and companies alike, the move towards more circular practices gains greater traction as the associated business opportunities become increasingly tangible.
In an era of sluggish post-crisis recovery and stagnating industrial investment, the transition to a circular economy is a source of innovation and industrial renewal for Europe.
The time is right and the EU – with its scale, integrated markets and strong institutions – is uniquely positioned to exploit the full benefits of such a transition. Yet, while pockets of the economy show signs of dynamism, levels of investment in circular economy opportunities are still generally too low.
The Foundation’s previous research Growth Within outlined a long-term circular economy vision for Europe; this new report identifies the most important investment opportunities along with the policy reforms and business actions needed to unlock them.
The report focuses on the mobility, food and built environment value chains, which together represent 60% of consumer expenditure and 80% of resource use.
Mobility (€135 billion)
• Integrating public transport systems with shared vehicles
• Designing and producing zero-emission cars with re-usable components
• Remanufacturing car components at scale
Food (€70 billion)
• Shifting towards agricultural practices that regenerate soil and ecosystems
• Scaling nutrient and energy recovery from waste
• Scaling indoor urban farming methods
• Developing new protein sources
Built environment (€115 billion)
• Designing and producing multi-usage, modular, energy-positive buildings from durable, non-toxic materials
• Boosting re-use of building materials
• Integrating circular economy principles into urban design and development.
Pursuing these ten circular innovation and investment themes could bring further benefits for Europe. The report finds that by 2025, compared with the current development path, the EU could increase GDP by an additional 7%, reduce raw material consumption by an additional 10%, and reduce annual CO2 emissions by an additional 17%.
A European transition could also have an impact far beyond its borders by creating global standards for product design and material choices, and by providing other regions with a “much-needed blueprint” for transformational industrial innovation.