Report on Territories’ circular economy activities and state-of-the-art published – 21.6.2023

The D1.1 report on Territories’ CE activities and state-of-the-art of CE maps out the state of circular economy (CE) in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Estonia. The report does so by conducting an analysis of current CE roadmaps, action plans, and strategies. A total of 56 documents on national, regional, and local level have been analysed. Based on the report, some key findings and take-aways have been teased out.

The documents analysed in this study are closely aligned with the European Union (EU) narrative, incorporating timelines, objectives, and reduction targets. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are also referenced, particularly in local documents. Notably, the goals set by the Finnish and Swedish governments are more ambitious, aiming for climate neutrality by 2035 in Finland and negative carbon emissions after 2045 in Sweden. In contrast, Norway envisions a low-emission society with a 90-95% reduction target by 2050.

Innovation is recognized as a crucial factor in the transition to a circular economy, although its emphasis varies across the documents. The focus on innovation spans from incremental to radical technological advancements and extends to broader societal changes involving the restructuring of social, economic, and technological systems. Among the identified measures, recycling emerges as a prominent strategy associated with lower-level resource management (R-strategies). While higher-level R-strategies such as “reduce,” “reuse,” and “repair” are also acknowledged, they receive relatively less attention in the documents.

To achieve a circular economy across different resource streams, cross-border collaboration is essential. Given the challenging geography of the Nordic region, fostering collaboration can enhance volumes and promote circularity, particularly in the Northern parts of Finland, Sweden, and Norway. It is paradoxical that no established collaborations currently exist, despite the presence of a working group on CE in the Nordic Council of Ministers.

While strategies for CE are outlined in the documents to varying degrees, it is crucial to transition from static plans to active implementation. The time is ripe to shift focus towards increased execution of CE strategies, facilitating a successful transition. Cross-country learning and sharing of best practices are necessary so that countries lagging behind can benefit from the experiences and insights of those that have progressed further in CE. However, it is crucial to tailor all efforts to suit the unique national contexts and circumstances.

You can download the full report here.

20.6.2023 | Henrik Brynthe Lund (SINTEF),

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