Circular economy innovations for industrial and urban waste management

The projects are very much in line with the strategy and priorities put forward by the new European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, for the European Green Deal and the New Circular Economy Action Plan. These will focus on sustainable resource use, especially in resource-intensive and high impact sectors such as textiles and construction.

Europe’s growing prosperity has resulted in the extraction and use of more resources, thereby producing more waste. Currently, on average citizen generates around 5 tonnes of waste per year, of which only a limited amount is recycled, most of the remainder is landfilled or incinerated.

The challenge of managing increasing quantities of waste, particularly from growing urban areas, represents a significant cost to society and puts pressure on the natural environment. But this discarded material also represents a valuable resource, which can be exploited by embracing a more circular economy that reduces waste and allows for the continual use and re-use of resources. This will help to conserve Europe’s environment and resources, as well as to protect society from the impacts of climate change.

A commitment to waste reduction

Boosting eco-innovative solutions in this way complies with the EU’s Communication on a Road Map to a Resource Efficient Europe which outlines how Europe’s economy can be transformed into a more sustainable one and proposes ways to increase resource productivity and decouple economic growth from resource use and its environmental impact. In addition, the Waste Framework Directive establishes the basic concepts related to waste management, defining waste, recycling and recovery. The EU is thus committed to implementing the principles of the waste management hierarchy, which promotes the prevention of waste, its reuse and recycling and its energy recovery. This requires eco-innovative solutions and resource-efficient products, processes and services like the urban metabolism model, which analyses the flow of energy and materials within cities.

New approaches

In this CORDIS Results Pack we showcase innovative solutions proposed by projects funded by the EU through the Horizon 2020 programme that promote waste reduction and improved resource efficiency in the textile, construction, photovoltaic, steel industry, bulky and urban waste sectors. The initiatives focused on Industrial Symbiosis, which is key driver for enabling the next step in a circular economy with a significant reduction in Green House Gas emissions, as well as its contribution to reaching a climate neutral economy by 2050 (zero emissions/zero waste), in line with the political guidelines of the von der Leyen Commission.

The RESYNTEX project tackled textile waste by creating a new circular economy concept that transforms it into feedstock for the chemical and textile industries. Another project, BAMB, is reducing construction and demolition waste through a new standardised circular way of designing buildings, enabling the construction sector to recover, repair and reuse building materials.

Meanwhile, CABRISS developed a circular economy for not only the photovoltaic (PV), but also the electronic and glass industries to form new business opportunities through the recovery of high-value materials found in End-of-Life PV panels. FISSAC demonstrates a new paradigm built on an innovative industrial symbiosis model with a zero-waste approach to the construction and demolition value chain.

Then we have URBANREC that designed an innovative bulky waste management system to enhance waste prevention and encourage new forms of waste treatment to obtain high added value recycled products. Finally, Waste4Think used information and communication technologies to improve all stages of the waste value chain, adapting a global approach focused on citizen participation to move towards a circular economy and build more sustainable, eco-friendly cities.

Source: Cordis