In fact, 45% of CO2 emissions across the EU come from the private sector’s production of materials that EU residents use every day.
The role of the private sector
Businesses are a key contributor to the traditional economic model.
If Europe is to succeed in its plans for a Green Transition, and meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the private sector will play a role in transitioning to a circular economy. Their actions and their business models can help drive consumer behavior to change in ways that will also contribute to achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement.
The European Strategy for Plastics offers just one potential model for mobilizing the private sector to contribute to the circular economy. The strategy has set a target of 11 million tons of recycled plastics to be used to make products in the EU by 2025. In its initial stage, the strategy calls for voluntary pledges from companies to use more recycled plastics. However, it reinforces this ambition to create meaningful change by saying that legal measures would then follow if plastic reduction and recycling rates do not improve.
The role of stakeholder engagement
In addition to stimulating the private sector, engaging civil society, citizens, educators, governments at all levels, and the scientific research community can help advance the circular economy. ICF’s recent experience implementing the Low Carbon and Circular Economy Business Action in Canada Project (LCPA) provides some important insights and learnings around how to make the most of stakeholder engagement to build a circular economy.
Commissioned by the EU and supported by ICF's expertise, this three-year project brings small- and medium-sized companies from the European Union into the environmental technology and circular economy space in the Americas.
The project aims to bring private sector green technology companies together to promote innovative solutions to low-carbon and circular economy challenges. This includes SMEs on the EU side and buyers of all sides on the Canadian side. This initiative involves defining key challenges faced by different industries in Canada and identifying relevant, innovative solutions to these challenges from the EU market. The idea behind this process is to:
- Move Canada towards low emission and resource use efficient practices
- Increase trade through green tech and circular economy suppliers
- Encourage the uptake of state-of-the-art cleantech and circular economy technology innovations and services
- Create awareness of the potential opportunities for partnership between the EU and Canadian markets
Examples of circular economy solutions that have been pitched by EU businesses to the Canadian market include everything from sustainable in-flight packaging solutions to valorizing waste products from lumber milling.
The project has highlighted the value of effectively engaging stakeholders in the project by:
- Using a "challenge pitch" methodology. The project invites EU businesses to pitch their innovative clean technology solutions directly to the Canadian market. Defining Canadian demand in the form of challenge statements makes it easier to match demand with supply.
- Implementing a multi-faceted communication strategy. Reaching out broadly via social media, the project website and interactive platform, and through intermediaries like the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) has helped establish LCBA as a brand in both the Canadian and EU markets.
- Supplementing our communications strategy with targeted recruitment of EU companies through partners that specialize in market research. This helped to ensure that the best available EU technology innovators were made aware of the opportunities to participate and do business.
This approach holds important lessons for future endeavors in looking to promote international trade in clean and circular economy technologies, and in shaping the future European economy.
You can discover more insights and find out more about ICF’s work in this area here.