Growth as a result of a new EU package of policy measures to develop the circular economy across Europe – due out tomorrow – could cut unemployment is Italy, Poland and Germany, according to think tank, Green Alliance.
Green Alliance has analysed its potential impact on the jobs market, focusing on three of Europe’s major manufacturing economies: Italy, Poland and Germany.
The study found that, if ambitious, the measures could cut unemployment and save €3bn a year. In these three economies alone, development of the circular economy at scale would help to tackle difficult regional and occupational unemployment issues and bring 270,000 people back into work.
The analysis identifies where new jobs, provided by stepping up resource efficient activities, would address local labour market barriers and reduce unemployment in Italy, Poland and Germany. It finds that:
- In Italy, where there is huge potential to develop the bioeconomy – around food and biotechnology – two thirds of new circular economy jobs could be created in southern and island regions, helping to reduce geographical inequality.
- In Poland, the potential is in remanufacturing industries, where jobs are likely to be long term. Poland currently has twice the EU average proportion of workers on so-called ‘junk’ or temporary contracts, making high quality, long term jobs particularly attractive.
- In Germany, despite having the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, there are also opportunities to tackle ingrained employment inequalities between west and east. By focusing on developing services which allow consumers to use manufactured goods without owning them, jobs can be provided in eastern German cities where unemployment is comparatively high.
This the first analysis by think tank Green Alliance for the Alliance for Circular Economy Solutions (ACES), a progressive new collaboration of businesses and think tanks committed to ambitious circular economy policy in Europe.
Dustin Benton, Green Alliance – “Our analysis shows that, by being much more ambitious in developing the reuse, remanufacturing and recycling industries, significant social as well as environmental dividends can be gained”
Dustin Benton, head of energy and resources at Green Alliance, said: “Our analysis shows that, by being much more ambitious in developing the reuse, remanufacturing and recycling industries, significant social as well as environmental dividends can be gained. And these benefits can apply to countries across Europe with very different geographies, economies and labour market challenges. We hope that the EU measures presented tomorrow will require better product design, reward manufacturers which create products that are remanufactured and recycled, and reform markets for secondary materials.”
Nick Molho, Executive Director of UK business group Aldersgate Group said: “This report is the latest reminder that there’s a compelling business case for an ambitious circular economy policy in Europe. If ambitious enough and backed up by concrete measures to rapidly grow the use of secondary materials, this upcoming package of legislation is a unique opportunity to boost the resource efficiency, competitiveness and growth of the EU’s economy. The Commission, Council and European Parliament must seize this opportunity.”
Katharina Reuter, CEO of the German Green Business Association, said: “What we need are binding targets to reduce resource use. Of key importance for us is that different targets for reuse and recycling are developed and established – notably on electronics, textiles and furniture.”
Circular Economy Package
The average European consumes 14 tonnes of raw materials and generates five tonnes of waste a year. These figures look alarming considering our resources are limited, but there might be a solution.
Many products and materials can be reused or repaired, thus reducing waste. On Monday (30 Nov) MEPs debate a report that calls on the European Commission to put forward an ambitious proposal to facilitate a transition towards a circular economy, where products are designed in order to facilitate reuse.
The traditional economy is based on take, make, consumer throw away, but in the circular economy the life cycle of products is extended. This could be for example due to improved durability, more efficient waste management or a better design that makes it easier to repair, reuse or remanufacture old products. However, it could also involve new business models based on leasing, sharing or selling pre-owned products.
The report being voted on Wednesday (2 Dec) calls for a binding target to increase resource efficiency in the EU by 30% by 2030 compared with last year. This would boost the EU’s gross domestic product by nearly 1% and create an additional two million jobs, according to estimates by the Commission.
Report author Sirpa Pietikäinen, a Finnish member of the EPP group, said in order to move towards a sustainable economy both regulatory and economic changes as well as social, educational changes would be needed.