Spanish government ratifies Circular Economy Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable production system with greater efficiency in the use of raw materials

El Gobierno aprueba el PERTE de Economía Circular para acelerar la transición hacia un sistema productivo más eficiente y sostenible en el uso de materias primas

The Spanish Cabinet, on the proposal of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO), today approved the Circular Economy Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE). The plan seeks to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable production system with greater efficiency in the use of raw materials. The aim is to meet the targets set out in the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy 2030 and make Spain an international benchmark in waste management, recycling and reuse.

The Circular Economy PERTE seeks to increase the competitiveness of industrial sectors and businesses in general, and to ensure greater strategic autonomy for the country in a context of high international uncertainty.

Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, highlighted this at the press conference following the Cabinet meeting. “This PERTE will make a decisive contribution to the Government’s efforts to strengthen Spain’s strategic autonomy in terms of the availability of raw materials and reduce our vulnerability to global crises,” she said.

The Circular Economy means a paradigm shift in production and consumption in which materials and resources are kept in the economy for as long as possible, waste production is minimised and unavoidable waste is valorised through recovery of its component parts so that they can be availed of once again in the production cycle. Vice-President Ribera stressed that “the current economic model of linear growth is unsustainable. Spain is no exception to this reality, which is why we are working to find comprehensive solutions that involve all stakeholders”.

PROMOTING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY IN SPANISH INDUSTRY

This PERTE is committed to three vital objectives in terms of achieving the transition to the Circular Economy in Spanish industry: promoting eco-design of products to make them more durable and repairable from the outset, thereby reducing waste; improving waste management through treatment plants that increase reuse, recycling and the incorporation of recovered raw materials in the production of new goods; and promoting digitalisation associated with these two objectives to improve competitiveness and innovation in all sectors of industry. 

In order to achieve these objectives, the PERTE includes aid packages of 492 million euros and will result in public and private investment of over 1,200 million euro between now and 2026. The Strategic Plan is composed of 18 instruments distributed into two lines of action: initiatives in key sectors, with a total a budget of 300 million, and cross-cutting initiatives to promote the Circular Economy in business, for which a budget of 192 million euros will be allocated.

A TRANSVERSAL STRATEGY

Due to the cross-cutting nature of the Circular Economy, one of the PERTE’S two lines of action is aimed specifically at production processes. It includes an aid programme for the promotion of the circular economy in the field of business, with the aim of improving the competitiveness and innovation of industry. This aid will be distributed in four categories: reduction of virgin raw materials consumption; eco-design; waste management and digitalisation. 

The measures envisaged in the plan are mainly associated with component 12 of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR). However, they go beyond this and permeate into other components of the PRTR to create synergies with other PERTEs in areas such as construction; agriculture, livestock and fisheries; water management; energy and renewable energy; tourism; and retraining, vocational training and green jobs.

This line will allocate aid of 100 million euros to enterprises in a first call for proposals, with an option to provide a further 92 million euros depending on take-up and demand.

DRIVING CIRCULARITY IN STRATEGIC SECTORS

The second line of action has a budget of 300 million euros and is designed to drive the implementation of circular schemes in Spain, particularly in three specific industries facing serious sustainability challenges: textile-fashion, plastics and renewable energies.

These three sectors combine a high degree of activity in Spain, great expectations of potential growth, with a correspondingly high volume of waste production, and the need to give greater impetus to circularity.

Moreover, difficulties in accessing the necessary technology and the high costs currently associated with waste treatment and reuse processes make public support for projects that promote this transformation essential in order to complement the efforts of private business. 100 million euros in grants will be made available to each of these sectors.

TEXTILE & FASHION

The textile sector, one of the most important in Spain, poses environmental challenges due to the impact caused by a model of rapid production and consumption. In order to improve international competitiveness and offer consumers safe, high-quality, affordable textile products, the PERTE will promote the use of low-impact raw materials in the sector, investment in technologies and infrastructures that facilitate reuse and recycling, and the implementation of measures to improve the traceability of products and materials.

PLASTICS SECTOR

The plastics sector is committed to seeking efficient alternatives for waste recycling and recovery, given the great environmental impacts associated with the dumping of plastic waste, increasingly demanding recycling targets and the need to satisfy the demand for quality raw materials for the food sector. For these reasons, the PERTE envisages measures such as encouraging eco-design, promoting reusable packaging and fostering mechanical and chemical recycling.

CAPTIAL GOODS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY

The current growth of the renewable energy sector underlines the need for the waste generated by renewable technologies to be managed appropriately when facilities reach the end of their service life. Components such as wind turbine blades, photovoltaic panels and batteries must be integrated into a circular production and reuse scheme, in line with Spain’s position as a leading generator of energy from renewable sources. The plan will, therefore, promote the eco-design of components associated with the clean energy sector, as well as the development of facilities and systems to increase the reuse and recycling of these products. 

Furthermore, the PERTE will make it possible to finance treatment facilities for batteries, which do not currently exist in Spain. This investment will facilitate the recovery of valuable materials such as lithium and lithium ion, and the development of systems to provide a second life for electric vehicle batteries that can be used for other purposes.

KEY TO RECOVERY

The Circular Economy will be one of the keys to recovery in Spain. It will facilitate new employment niches and provide resilience by reducing the external dependence of our economy at a time of uncertainty regarding the availability of raw materials and other inputs.

It is estimated that the application of circularity principles throughout the EU economy could increase EU GDP by a further 0.5% by 2030, whilst creating around 700,000 new jobs, more than 10% of which could potentially be in Spain.

Since taking office, the circular economy has been amongst the main commitments of the Spanish Government. In June 2020, it approved the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy – España Circular 2030, a strategy that sets quantitative targets for the purpose of achieving a new environmentally and economically sustainable production model.