The recovery in Spain will be circular

With the ratification of the new Spanish Circular Economy Strategy, Spain has committed to a new model of growth based on sustainable development. One of the most important strategy lines makes ecodesign a key element of the recycling value chain.

The Spanish Cabinet ratified the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy (EEEC) on June 5. The initiative dates all the way back to September 2017, when the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environmental Affairs, Isabel García Tejerina, presented a strategy of the same name and promoted the “Circular Economy Pact”, which was endorsed by FER and many other economic actors who shared a desire to transform the current linear economic model into a circular model.

Almost three years, and several general elections, later, the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO), led by Teresa Ribera, has given the green light to a strategy that will dovetail with the new plans of the European Commission, in the form of the European Green Deal, which also includes a Circular Economy Action Plan.

The serious health crisis caused by COVID-19 should not take the limelight from this excellent news for Spain. On the contrary, the Strategy should be regarded as vital at a time when we are listening to so much talk about the reconstruction of our economy. Therefore, while economic gurus of different ideologies are forecasting “U” and “V” shaped economic recovery curves, and always in the context of the current linear economic model, implementation of the EEEC would result in circular growth. In other words, Spain would recover a path to growth that puts the emphasis on environmental protection, human health, lower consumption of unrenewable natural resources, and the reuse of materials contained in waste as secondary raw materials in the production cycle.

The EEEC indicates that we would need almost three planet Earths to provide the natural resources to maintain today’s lifestyle for the estimated world population in 2050. Based on this premise, the scenarios and forecasts made by organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the World Economic Forum and the European Environment Agency indicate that between now and 2030, the circular economy could generate profits of 1.8 billion euro in the EU, i.e., 0.9 billion euro more than the current linear economic model.

Alicia García-Franco, CEO at the Spanish Federation of Recovery and Recycling (FER), vice-president of the European Recycling Industries Confederation (EuRIC), a member of the Executive Board of CONFEMETAL and a member of the Board of Directors of UNE

Published in: FuturENVIRO Nº 70 May-June 2020