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EIB, banking institutions launch EUR 10 billion circular economy initiative

25 July 2019

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has teamed up with multiple national banking institutions to support the circular economy in Europe. The partnership will target more than EUR 10 billion of investments to prevent waste, increase resource efficiency and foster innovation across multiple sectors of the European economy.

On 18 July 2019, the Luxembourg-based EIB announced it had teamed up with five “national promotional banks and institutions” from Poland, France, Italy, Spain and Germany to deliver the Joint Initiative on Circular Economy (JICE) with initial investments spanning the next five years (2019-2023).

Supporting the circular economy transition

According to the EIB, JICE will provide “loans, equity investment or guarantee eligible projects and develop innovative financing structures for public and private infrastructure, municipalities, private enterprises of different size (sic) as well as for research and innovation projects”.

In particular, this means supporting investments in European Union member states that accelerate the transition to a circular economy, targeting all stages of the value chain and life cycle of products and services.

This will include investments in circular design and production – applying “reduce and recycle” strategies to design out waste at source – and enabling the “reuse, repair, repurposing, refurbishing or remanufacturing of products in use phase”. The recovery of material and other resources from waste will be equally important.

Stemming the tide of waste

EIB president Werner Hoyer said: “Fighting global warming and environmental crises is the most urgent challenge of our time. Strengthening the circular economy is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. It will not only help the Paris Agreement target but also bring huge benefits for the economy and society.”

Dr Hoyer added: “With the Joint Initiative on Circular Economy, we are scaling up our ambition and joining forces with our peers to stem the tide of waste.”

The five banking institutions joining the EIB in the initiative are: Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego (BGK), Groupe Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) (France), Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Italy), Instituto de Crédito Oficial (Spain) and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) (Germany).

The PlastiCircle approach officially launched on World Environment Day

5 June 2019

In the Valencian neighbourhood of Sant Marceŀlí (San Marcelino), press and local dignitaries gathered yesterday on 5 June for the official launch of the first PlastiCircle pilot initiative.

Since the neighbourhood pilot began in earnest one month ago, nearly 450 families in Sant Marceŀlí have signed up for the PlastiCircle pilot, under the local Valencian name ReciPlàstic.

Through an innovative “ecopoints” reward system, participants are incentivised for better household sorting of plastic packaging waste, and of course its disposal – which can be done at one of 25 yellow “smart containers” dotted around the district.

Yesterday’s official launch to local media, on World Environment Day, was an opportunity to spread the key messages of the PlastiCircle campaign in Valencia: that citizens can learn to recycle more and better whilst contributing to a circular economy, and of course to PlastiCircle’s innovative approach to the treatment of plastic packaging waste, converting it into added-value recycled products.

César Aliaga, PlastiCircle co-ordinator and head of sustainability at Valencia’s ITENE group, said: “Thanks to these smart containers we can go some way to improved recycling and a more circular economy – with the help of an ecopoints system that allows users to later claim for a variety of rewards.”

Aliaga added: “(This is) an initiative in which, at present, 446 families in the Sant Marceŀlí neighbourhood are participating, and I expect there will be more.”

The pilot initiative wouldn’t be possible without the active support of local residents, and specifically the local neighbourhood association. For the association’s president, Salvador González Bartual, the pilot is turning out to be a win-win initiative:

“We are a neighbourhood that gets very involved in recycling issues and we are showing it through strong participation (in this pilot). And thanks to the pilot, we are learning how to recycle more and better. The workshops being conducted with residents and in schools... everything helps.”

The pilot project will continue until the end of the summer. Residents who have registered for the scheme via the super hero-themed website can deposit their packaging waste in one of the 25 yellow containers in the neighbourhood. Each smart container has an innovative ticket dispenser that gives the user a unique bar code ID for their waste bag. This way, it is possible to identify how well each resident has been sorting their plastic waste. “Ecopoints” are then accrued by the user and claimed for rewards at a later date.

Valencia is the first of three innovative PlastiCircle pilots, all designed to roll out innovations in plastic waste collection, transport, sorting and recycling. The remaining pilots will be held in Utrecht (the Netherlands) from August, and in Alba Iulia (Romania) from the winter of 2019-2020.


A full house in Brussels for Europe's plastic waste innovators!

23 May 2019

On 16 May 2019, more than 100 policy makers, innovators and circular economy experts gathered at Scotland House in Brussels for the PlastiCircle and ICLEI Europe conference ‘Circular Cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste’.

Held during EU Green Week, the conference was a hub of activity for industry, NGOs, academia and Horizon 2020 projects – all looking to debate from policy, city and industry perspectives on the challenge of plastic waste and the need for real innovation in a circular economy.

“Linear is out, circular is in!”

The conference was opened by Werner Bosmans of the European Commission’s DG Environment, with a keynote presentation on a European strategy for plastics in the circular economy. Joined on the panel by Daiva Kvedaraitė (European Economic and Social Committee) and André van de Nadort (European Committee of the Regions), Mr Bosmans’ intervention was a timely reminder of the urgent challenges facing cities across Europe, and the critical importance of new legislation introduced by the EU institutions.

The European strategy for plastics in a circular economy revolves around four key axes: curbing plastic waste and littering; improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling; driving investments and innovation towards circular solutions; and harnessing global action. And conference-goers were especially eager to press Mr Bosmans on the specifics of what the European Commission foresees from 2019 onwards.

How can cities solve the plastic challenge?

With the conference co-organised by the European Secretariat of global city network ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the city dimension was a crucial component of the event – which also attracted representatives from regions and municipalities around Europe.

The second panel of the day, moderated by Zero Waste Scotland’s Iain Gulland, brought about robust discussions on the best strategies for city leaders to engage with citizens and address growing concerns over municipal waste management (including plastic packaging). Cristina Monge (AVEP), Jonas Mortensen (the city of Copenhagen), Eric Velthuizen (the city of Utrecht) and Ana Moya of PlastiCircle all offered key insights from their cities.

The PlastiCircle perspective was crucial, given project experiences in not one but three European cities: Valencia (Spain), Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Alba Iulia (Romania).

Can plastics innovations make cities more circular?

The final panel of the day gathered key industry representatives, plus the co-ordinators of the PlastiCircle and CIRC-PACK projects. The CEO of Veolia Netherlands, Hildagarde McCarville, was joined on the panel by fellow industry innovator Howard Waghorn of HAHN Plastics Ltd. – both offered key insights into how innovations in urban waste management can "close the loop" and make the circular economy visible to the citizens of Europe’s urban areas.

But the conference also offered some welcome additional spaces for collaboration and exchange, not least the lunchtime ‘Innovation Space’, featuring industry clusters such as Plastipolis, companies such as Veolia, and Horizon 2020 projects such as BioVoices, FORCE, CIRC-PACK and PlastiCircle.

In–depth discussions – New plastics, digitalisation, measuring the circular economy and more

The parallel workshops were also a key highlight of the day. With CIRC-PACK hosting a well-attended workshop on new plastic materials and ecodesign, ICLEI Europe hosted a workshop on local approaches to measuring the circular economy.

There was also a highly interactive set of focus groups during the workshop ‘Digitalisation for a circular economy’. These discussions were led by Ander Pijoan of the Waste4Think project, Annika Hedberg of the European Policy Centre, Henning Wilts of the Wuppertal Institute and Alberto Bellini of the University of Bologna and co-ordinator of the eCircular project.

“Cities are consumers – and can lead by example”

The 100 or so participants at ‘Circular cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste’ heard discussions on plastic waste from a wide range of perspectives; city-focused, industry-focused and from an innovation-centred perspective. But throughout the discussions on plastic waste, a number of key themes arose again and again.

Closing the conference, ICLEI Europe deputy regional director Ruud Schuthof noted that awareness raising is key – with the issue of plastic waste there is an opportunity for communicators and all stakeholders because “plastic waste is very tangible”. But the public in all of Europe’s municipalities need be better informed on plastic solutions, with “clear descriptions on what we mean in terms of waste, re-use and recycling”. In reality, noted Mr Schuthof, “cities are consumers, and can lead by example!”

The 16 May conference also released the official PlastiCircle promo video, which runs through the essence of the PlastiCircle innovation by innovation! The video is on YouTube.

PlastiCircle gains momentum with the residents of Sant Marceŀli

29 April 2019

Last week in the neighbourhood of Sant Marceŀli, Valencia, residents had another chance to sign up and take part in PlastiCircle – before a new kind of plastic waste collection and recycling begins there on 1 May.

On 24 April, in Calle Pio IX in the heart of Valencia’s Sant Marceŀli district, the PlastiCircle approach was once again brought to Valencianos of all ages. Under the local branding ‘ReciPlàstic’ and with the help of local website, residents can sign up to take part in the pilot and learn how they can be rewarded for good recycling behaviour -  ‘ecopoints’ given for the effective sorting of plastic packaging waste in 25 yellow containers dotted around the neighbourhood.

In Sant Marceŀli, the yellow bin bag is taking on a whole new meaning, with a PlastiCircle information campaign now in full swing and registrations adding up as locals aspire to better management of their household plastic wastes.

Residents are encouraged, with the help of the community-wide information and education campaign, to recycle their plastic waste and light packaging more effectively. They now have more information on which items go inside the yellow container and those that don’t.

When going to throw out their plastic waste, participants use a personal card at the Plasticircle smart containers to assign a user ID (bar code) to their waste bag before depositing the rubbish. With the help of smart technology and the 'ecopoints' system, residents can later claim from a range of rewards for their good recycling, in conjunction with local authorities and Valencia’s innovation centre, Las Naves.

And residents meeting the PlastiCircle/ ReciPlàstic team have been particularly keen on learning about the Super Marcelina website – a useful repository for practical information and news on the pilot, under the guidance of a circular economy superheroine.

The information point in Calle Pio IX was the latest in a series of efforts by PlastiCircle/ ReciPlàstic, following meetings with schoolchildren on 11 April, and at the local Sant Marceŀli health centre a few days later. Up next: an official unveiling of the project on 17 May when local media will be invited to see the project in full swing on the streets of this Valencian barrio and PlastiCircle pilot neighbourhood.