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Circular economy: What are the enablers and barriers?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

CSR Europe and the other partners of the R2π project have published a report on the enablers and barriers of a circular economy. By presenting stakeholder views on what influences the transition from linear to circular economy business models, the report provides an insight into the main drivers and obstacles of the transformation.


Through the implementation of innovative and sustainable business models, the circular economy represents a great opportunity for companies. The transition encourages economic growth, generation of jobs and cost reduction for businesses. It leads to an environmentally sustainable economic system in which the life of resources and goods is extended as much as possible, and waste generation is brought to a minimum.



With its Consortium of 16 partners, R2π – a three-year project funded by the European Commission – wishes to facilitate this innovative transformation. As a partner of the project, and together with the University of Malta, CSR Europe has authored the "Stakeholder Views Report on the Barriers and Enablers to a Circular Economy "(download the report here). By summarising the results of stakeholder exchanges conducted under R2π, the report outlines key information for the development of business guidelines and policy recommendations the Consortium will present upon conclusion of the project in 2019.


The business case for the adoption of circular economy business models is clear. However, the transition is not simple, as the barriers to this achievement are numerous from both business and policy perspectives.

There are many enablers supporting the circular transformation of the private sector, for instance:

  • The commitment of the Board and senior-level management
  • The spillover effects of international (circular) corporations on local supply chains (e.g. through procurement)
  • The development of material passports and quality standards for reused/recycled products
  • The availability of EU funding to foster innovation

At either company or value chain level, businesses operating in the EU have highlighted the following key barriers:

  • Initial costs of the transformation, together with the lack of supportive taxation systems
  • Perceived lack of consumer demand
  • Lack of a supporting secondary raw material market
  • Lack of harmonisation in the implementation of the EU policy framework

The scenario surrounding the circular ambition is complex. Businesses, value chains, Member States and the European institutions, all play a fundamental role in influencing the achievement of a circular economy. Joint efforts are therefore required: Improvements to achieve sustainable growth and foster EU competitiveness can only be made by addressing the issues through collaboration.


For additional information on the report and to further discuss how CSR Europe can help your company in the transition towards circularity, we invite you to join our webinar on September 19, 2018 (11:00-12:00 CEST). To register, please click hereor send an to e-mail Elisa Casazza (