What is the concept of a circular economy?

The circular economy (circular economy) assumes the creation of a closed loop of business processes, where the newly formed waste is used as raw materials in other production stages. The report of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, prepared in cooperation with experts, shows that the widespread use of the concept of circular economy may lead to a more rational use of resources, as well as reducing the negative impact of the industrial sector on the environment.

New business models, corresponding to the assumptions of the circular economy concept, may create development opportunities for enterprises. Currently, most entrepreneurs declare that they implement circular economy solutions in order to comply with the applicable regulations. The optimal situation will arise, however, when the implementation of the above-mentioned solutions will be more effective for enterprises or at least neutral in terms of costs and quality. According to experts, it will take place in the near future along with the development of technology and the dissemination of solutions for the circular economy.

Recycling and recovery are only a small part of the whole idea of ​​circular economy. However, selective waste collection is at the basis of circular economy because only correctly collected raw material from the market gives a chance for its re-utilization. Today you can observe leading trends and identify the so-called mega-trends that will be important in the process of transforming economies towards circular economy in the future. The current trends are: new energy sources and energy efficiency, selective waste collection and recycling, changes in consumer behaviour, searching for new business models, eco-design, changes in the policy area, as well as the so-called green public procurement.

The Nordic countries, which treat environmental issues as a priority, are the leader in disseminating the idea of ​​circular economy in enterprises and society. They already achieve high rates of waste recycling, restrictions on energy storage and neutralization, and a high share of energy production from renewable sources (RES). In the area of ​​circular economy, Poland is in the middle position in the European Union (along with Hungary and the Czech Republic). Among the countries of the Visegrad Group (V4), Slovakia stands out positively, as it has the most favourable structure of processing waste from V4 and the highest percentage of energy consumption from RES.

The implementation of circular economy solutions is hampered by a number of barriers. Experts indicate that the greatest of them is the low awareness of market participants – both entrepreneurs (producers) and consumers – caused by insufficient education in the field of environmental protection.

Poles are generally positive about environmental issues and taking care of nature. The vast majority believe that it should be a priority human activity. They are aware of the negative impact of humans on the natural environment. However, this conviction does not translate significantly into consumer behaviour. Entrepreneurs are also aware of their impact on the environment. Some of them, however, do not take any actions to limit the negative impact of the company. The most important reasons for this (apart from the high cost of solutions) are the lack of sufficient knowledge. The environmental factor does not motivate companies to undertake innovative activities. It is at most an additional aspect of projects undertaken in order to minimize costs or increase revenues.

One of the key challenges for the development of circular economy is the need to re-evaluate the lifestyle and work. For example, nowadays consumers often decide to buy new household appliances / electronics despite the fact that their current device is functional. This phenomenon is called moral obsolescence of products as a result of rapid technological changes.

A significant barrier to the development of the circular economy is also the lack of specialist knowledge (competence gap). Circular economy requires highly qualified staff and employees with new skills. Deficiencies in this area effectively block the idea of ​​circular economy both at the concept stage, design stage or introducing new business models.

In order to effectively eliminate barriers to the development of circular economy, an appropriate system of incentives, including financial support for companies, is necessary. Actions should be aimed at eliminating basic barriers, i.e. low awareness of market participants (both entrepreneurs and consumers), a competency gap among the personnel of production companies and limited availability of financing. The offer of assistance measures should also vary depending on the size of enterprises – the barriers mostly concern small and medium-sized enterprises.

Experts pointed out that Polish entrepreneurs and administration are currently in the process of „learning” circular economy. But despite the postponed benefits of investing in circular economy, it is profitable both in terms of business and civilization.

Źródło: https://www.parp.gov.pl/component/content/article/69040:gospodarka-o-obiegu-zamknietym-szansa-na-rozwoj-firm

Region Gdański NSZZ „Solidarność”

Projekt otrzymał dofinansowanie z Norwegii poprzez Fundusze Norweskie 2014-2021, w ramach programu „Dialog społeczny – godna praca”.

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