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Circular Economy: The Next Challenge of Spain

Friday, October 5, 2018

The current model of production and management of resources, goods and services based on the promotion of mass consumption in the short term is unsustainable in the not so distant future. In this socio-economic context, the concept of circular economy increasingly becomes the focus of attention for various political and business leaders. This innovative economic model aims to replace a linear economy based on extracting, producing, consuming and throwing away, with a circular economy in which resources remain in the economy for as long as possible.

During the last few years we have seen growing concern on the part of policy makers about the waste of materials. Beginning in Europe, where the circular economy is part of the European Strategies for Sustainable Growth, presenting back in 2015 with a Plan of Action for a circular economy in Europe that includes 54 action measures for the next 5 years to move towards a circular economy.

Spain also joins the transition challenge by developing an ambitious Spanish Strategy for the Circular Economy. At the European Union level, an average of 31% of the waste generated ends up in landfills, however in Spain, where the landfill is still the most common system for managing waste, this percentage rises to more than half.

Spanish companies are proving to be up to the challenge of “circulating the economy” and have launched programs of all kinds: ensuring the durability of waste, recovering resources within the value chain, extending the life of the product and putting in the market products as services, among others. In this new panorama, companies have begun to rethink their production processes in order to minimize the generation of waste. We see that in the circular economy the emphasis shifts from ownership to usage, and the products are reused, which prevents them from going to the landfill and therefore efficiency is improved, waste is reduced and the use of renewable energies is promoted.

From the Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad we see how companies are already implementing practices and objectives to strengthen the Circular Economy in their value chain.

Mahou San Miguel is approaching the circular economy through ambitious but achievable objectives, including promoting the reuse of materials until their containers contain at least 50% R-PET, 70% recycled glass and 100% sustainable cardboard.

For some time now, CEMEX has been encouraging that waste that cannot be recycled, be seen as resources. In this way, CEMEX reuses the energy of its waste in the recovery of material and energy, whilst reducing its CO2 emissions.

Saint- Gobain Placo has drawn up a series of objectives to be achieved by 2025 that promote the Circular Economy, by encouraging the efficient and responsible use of natural resources. These objectives are reflected in their projects, such as the "Towards Circular Buildings" plan, in which all building components must be easy to assemble and dismantle, as well as, high-quality, non-toxic and easy to reuse or recycle construction materials must be used, among others.

In this context the Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad has launched the Spanish Observatory of Circular Economy with the aim of becoming a reference forum in the field of circular economy and generating a space for dialogue between companies, public administrations and experts in the field of subject to monitor the situation nationally and internationally and promoting the adoption of good practices and the promotion of public policies in Spain.