30 May 2019

Euronews features CIRC-PACK innovations, expertise in new segment on sustainable products

International media channel Euronews has featured the CIRC-PACK project in its latest Futuris segment on European companies producing sustainable products.

With features via both and YouTube (watch 3:58-8:45), viewers can see first-hand what innovations project partner Novamont is developing at its facilities in Novara, Italy, in addition to expert analysis by Andrea Božić of Saponia, Montserrat Lanero of CIRCE and Belén Ramos of OCU.

Euronews takes a close look at the recipe and techniques for producing biodegradable and compostable bioplastics at the Novamont research and development facilities – bioplastics which comprise such a crucial part of the CIRC-PACK project.

“Over time and given the right conditions in terms of industrial composting or ‘biograding’ underground, molecules of these bioplastics break down little by little thanks to the actions of these micro-organisms,” explains CIRC-PACK partner and Novamont researcher Alessandro d’Elicio.

“Over time these molecules will be transformed into something more elemental like organic carbon or simple compost.”

Luigi Capizzi, Head of R&D at Novamont, adds that projects such as CIRC-PACK “do not want to simply replace one product with another”.

“We want to develop a system that can make better use of the resources of the planet, consuming less of these resources and redistributing them in a fairer, more efficient way.”

Europe produces around 25 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Not even a third is recycled, and the rest is either incinerated or ends up as landfill. Solutions are needed urgently.

For Andrea Božić of Croatian company Saponia, bioplastics are already used in the items they produce – such as the inside of detergent packaging.

“We are starting with certain types of products, (we) use this type of plastic, and simply teach our consumers that this is better – for them and for our environment. So in time, when we notice that they have accepted this type of plastic or this type of product packaging, we will simply broader it to our other products.”

So along with research and innovation, education will play a crucial role in fomenting the uptake of more eco-friendly products, as part of European efforts in the field.

According to Montserrat Lanero of CIRCE, “there are many countries in northern Europe whose plastic waste management system is well implemented and developed”. However, this is not the reality in many other countries, where citizens don’t know the implications of bad management when it comes to plastics ending up as marine litter or entering the food chain.

“One of our main challenges is to understand the needs of each European country to be able to find as many adapted solutions as we can,” she adds.

Initiatives such as CIRC-PACK have turned to the concept of “citizen science” to understand what social and market expectations are when it comes to reinforcing the circular economy in the plastics sector.

For Belén Ramos of Spanish consumer body OCU, empowering the citizen is key:

“Often they (the citizens) don’t realise that their shopping decisions are very important in moving the market towards more sustainable trends. But we also need to empower the market so it can give a wider array of choice to the consumers.”

The Futuris segment, 'How companies across Europe are creating sustainable products using less water and less energy', will continue to air live during June 2019 and will then be available on demand via the Euronews website and YouTube channel.


23 May 2019

CIRC-PACK joins European plastic waste innovators in Brussels

On 16 May 2019, more than 100 policy makers, innovators and circular economy experts gathered at Scotland House in Brussels for the PlastiCircle and ICLEI Europe conference ‘Circular Cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste’.

Held during EU Green Week, the conference was a hub of activity for industry, NGOs, academia and Horizon 2020 projects – all looking to debate from policy, city and industry perspectives on the challenge of plastic waste and the need for innovation in a circular economy.

The CIRC-PACK consortium had a central role in proceedings, fresh from a General Assembly meeting in Brussels the day before. At the Circular Cities conference, more than 20 CIRC-PACK collaborators were present, with the project hosting the successful workshop ‘New materials and ecodesign for plastics in a circular economy’.

Interest in the CIRC-PACK project was also at an all-time high during the meeting, with a Euronews film crew interviewing key consortium partners on the role of consumers, ecodesign, and industry uptake of CIRC-PACK project innovations. Footage of CIRC-PACK will be released in the coming weeks as part of the Euronews Futuris segment.

“Linear is out, circular is in!”

The conference itself was opened by Werner Bosmans of the European Commission’s DG Environment, with a keynote presentation on a European strategy for plastics in the circular economy. Joined on the panel by Daiva Kvedaraitė (European Economic and Social Committee) and André van de Nadort (European Committee of the Regions), Mr Bosmans’ intervention was a timely reminder of the urgent challenges facing cities across Europe, and the critical importance of new legislation introduced by the bloc.

The European strategy for plastics in a circular economy revolves around four key axes: curbing plastic waste and littering; improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling; driving investments and innovation towards circular solutions; and harnessing global action. And conference-goers were especially eager to press Mr Bosmans on the specifics of what the European Commission foresees from 2019 onwards.

How can cities solve the plastic challenge?

With the conference co-organised by the European Secretariat of global city network ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the city dimension was a crucial component of the event – which also attracted representatives from regions and municipalities around Europe.

The second panel of the day, moderated by Zero Waste Scotland’s Iain Gulland, brought about robust discussions on the best strategies for city leaders to engage with citizens and address growing concerns over municipal waste management (including plastic packaging). Cristina Monge (AVEP), Jonas Mortensen (the city of Copenhagen), Eric Velthuizen (the city of Utrecht) and Ana Moya of PlastiCircle all offered key insights from their cities.

The PlastiCircle perspective was crucial, given project experiences in not one but three European cities: Valencia (Spain), Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Alba Iulia (Romania).

Can plastics innovations make cities more circular?

The final panel of the day gathered both industry representatives and Horizon 2020 project co-ordinators, including CIRC-PACK project manager Montserrat Lanero. Ms Lanero and César Aliaga (PlastiCircle) were joined by the CEO of Veolia Netherlands, Hildagarde McCarville, and fellow industry innovator Howard Waghorn of HAHN Plastics Ltd. – they offered key insights into how innovations in urban waste management can "close the loop" and make the circular economy visible to everyday citizens of Europe’s urban areas.

But the conference also offered some welcome additional spaces for collaboration and discussion, not least the lunchtime ‘Innovation Space’, featuring industry clusters such as Plastipolis, companies such as Veolia, and Horizon 2020 projects BioVoices, FORCE, UrbanWINS and of course CIRC-PACK.

In–depth discussions – New plastics, digitalisation, measuring the circular economy and more

The parallel workshops were also a key highlight of the day, with CIRC-PACK hosting a well-attended, multi-stakeholder workshop on new plastic materials and ecodesign. Taking centre stage were Keti Medarova-Bergstrom of the European Commission (EASME), Greet Overbeek of the BioVoices project, Daniel Massó of Spanish standardisation body UNE, and as chair, Belén Ramos of Spanish consumer organisation OCU. In-depth discussions and focus groups followed the series of stimulating presentations.

There was also a highly interactive set of focus groups during the workshop ‘Digitalisation for a circular economy’. These discussions were led by Ander Pijoan of the Waste4Think project, Annika Hedberg of the European Policy Centre, Henning Wilts of the Wuppertal Institute and Alberto Bellini of the University of Bologna and co-ordinator of the eCircular project.

ICLEI Europe hosted a workshop on local approaches to measuring the circular economy, with a host of senior speakers including Aristide Athanassiadis of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

“Cities are consumers – and can lead by example”

The 100 or so participants at ‘Circular cities – Innovating to tackle plastic waste’ heard discussions on plastic waste from a wide range of perspectives; city-focused perspectives, industry-focused perspectives and from an innovation-centric perspective. But throughout the urban plastic waste discussions, a number of key themes arose again and again.

Closing the conference, ICLEI Europe deputy regional director Ruud Schuthof noted that raising of awareness is key – and indeed with the issue of plastic waste there is an opportunity for communicators and all stakeholders because “plastic waste is very tangible”. But the public in all of Europe’s municipalities need be better informed on plastic solutions, with “clear descriptions on what we mean in terms of waste, re-use and recycling”. In reality, noted Mr Schuthof, “cities are consumers, and can lead by example!”

The 16 May conference also released the official PlastiCircle promo video, which runs through the essence of PlastiCircle innovations in plastic waste collection, transport, sorting and recycling. The video is on YouTube.

20 May 2019

Success for CIRC-PACK workshop on new materials and ecodesign

CIRC-PACK has raised its profile at the heart of Europe with a packed workshop on new materials and ecodesign for plastics in a circular economy, held in Brussels at the conference 'Circular Cities - Innovating to tackle plastic waste'.

On 16 May 2019, multiple stakeholders from across Europe gathered for a special PlastiCircle and ICLEI Europe conference on the circular economy of plastics in Europe's urban areas. Held at Scotland House in the heart of Brussels' EU quarter, the conference also hosted a series of specialised multi-stakeholder workshops.

CIRC-PACK was invited to organise a session to gather feedback from experts that would serve to boost the social acceptance of new, improved plastic packaging products. The workshop brought together stakeholders from across the plastic packaging value chain, including waste management and treatment professionals, manufacturers, end users, designers and public authorities.

The interactive workshop featured a number of brief round table presentations from the European Commission, Horizon 2020 project BioVoices, Spanish standardisation body UNE and Croatian manufacturer Saponia.

Participants were introduced to EU policies, initiatives and funding mechanisms by Keti Medarova-Bergstrom (EASME), who placed special emphasis on the role the Commission is playing in the launch of innovative bio-based products. This was followed by an intervention by Greet Overbeek of BioVoices on strategies to foster market uptake.

The strong line-up was completed by Daniel Massó of UNE and Andrea Božić of Saponia, who respectively delved into the standardisation of product information and the main barriers for businesses that aim to embrace new plastic packaging.

Workshop participants were given ample opportunity to engage with the issues during parallel discussions - notably led by public administration and business.

The session was led by Belén Ramos of Spanish consumer organisation OCU, and is one of a series of multi-stakeholder workshops organised by CIRC-PACK around the European continent. Indeed the next session is slated for Ecomondo 2019, to be held in November in Rimini, Italy.