Over the past month, T6 Ecosystems, responsible for CircEUlar stakeholder and policy engagement as well as for the project’s communication and dissemination activities, has been conducting expert interviews. 

To date, T6 has conducted ten interviews with experts in mobility, buildings, digitalisation or circularity more broadly. Interviewees represent industry, policy, civic society and research. 

The interviews were semi-structured and used a thematic topic guide to encourage a more free-flowing discussion. Topics covered included: the effect of circular approaches, current and future business challenges of circular strategies, enablers of circularity and interviewees’ vision for their sector or business in a more circular society. 

The most thought-provoking discussion was around barriers and drivers towards the adoption of more circular business practices. As we proceed with our analysis, we can offer some preliminary take-outs. 

In terms of key drivers, a more circular society needs: 

  • A joined-up narrative and common terminology around circularity. Now the space is divided, rather than shared, between sustainability, Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG), climate, carbon and net-zero strategies, industrial strategy, lean thinking, and performance economy policies. This is true across policy, research, and industry; 
  • The perfect cocktail of seamless EU regulation, solid business opportunities and civic encouragement;  
  • To realise the potential of the European single market as a hub for the circulation of more circular, second-hand and remanufactured products creating a virtuous, interlocked closed-loop system;  
  • A framing and discourse anchored in respected common-pool resources and social gains, empowering individuals as citizens not consumers. 

The more specific barriers that have stood out are: 

  • The displacement of benefits and carbon impact in a globalised circular economy risks further promoting rebound effects; 
  • Issues with certification of products and materials causes problems with insurance and disruption of the supply chain, certification is needed as it gives companies agency and USP (unique selling point); 
  • National and EU law not being aligned and complying with both proves very demanding and difficult for businesses; 
  • The length of certain procurement contracts, especially with public clients, stifles innovation towards circularity.  

The T6 team are inspired. We look forward to completing more interviews and continuing with the analysis. The insights gathered will provide motivating content to inform the facilitation of the expert stakeholder workshop organised in Brussels on March 14th 

By Sara Giorgi – T6 Ecosystems