An international voluntary agreement on secondary resources between France, Flanders, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands has been signed today in Brussels by Ministers, entrepreneurs, NGO's, industry associations and port authorities.
Europe needs to move towards a circular economy. It offers the perspective of combined economic and environmental growth. A good first step towards a circular economy is to make better use of secondary resources. Most value-chains are however cross-border and regulation is often national. Enterprises that want to increase recycling or use more secondary resources to replace dependency on primary resources (and save CO2 in the process) encounter barriers.
The launch of the North Sea Resources Roundabout
Recyclable plastic or non ferro’s which remain after the incineration of waste, far too often end up as waste. They are difficult to trade internationally because such secondary raw materials are regarded differently from country to country. Because this is a missed opportunity for both the economy and the environment, Dutch Minister for the Environment Dijksma signed on March 3, 2016, an international green deal in Brussels aimed at stimulating safe trade in secondary resources. Together with Minister Kamp (Economic Affairs), British, French and Flemish ministers, the business community, and environmental organisations, she launched the North Sea Resources Roundabout (NSSR) that will aim to remove these barriers.
Dutch Environmental Minister Sharon Dijksma: ‘To make our economy greener, I want to allow sustainability leaders in the business community room for innovation. And that is exactly what this deal does. By redefining what constitutes “resources”, and at the same time aligning the definition among neighbouring countries, things will get easier for businesses. This will benefit the environment and will add considerable impetus to economic activity between countries in the North Sea region.’ Henk Kamp, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, agreed with Dijksma and stated: ‘The Green Deal underlines that the circular economy promotes business, provides employment opportunities and improves our local living environment.’
The green deal has been signed by ministers, industry associations and NGO’s from four countries. The green deal will continue for 5 years during which a maximum of 10 flows will be investigated.
A decisive initiative
Several participants commented on the signing of the green deal on March 3. Ray Georgeson, Chief Executive of the Resource Association stated: 'The North Sea Resources Roundabout initiative has the potential to unlock barriers that hamper the flow of secondary resources across Europe without endangering the environment.' Sue Armstrong Brown, Policy Director, Green Alliance: 'Green Alliance is proud to support the North Sea Resource Roundabout initiative. By working together, the countries involved in the North Sea Resource Roundabout will act as pioneers in addressing a major barrier to scaling up the circular economy and set an example that the rest of the EU can follow.' Thierry Mallet, Executive Vice President in charge of Innovation, Business Performance and Marketing SUEZ called it 'a decisive initiative' to take away regulatory barriers and explore the full potential of the Single Market in the transition towards a circular economy.
The importance of a circular economy
According to the calculations of the European Commission, a more rapid shift to a circular economy could save European businesses 600 billion euros in production costs, which translates into 8% of turnover. Moreover, 580,000 additional jobs would be created and CO2 emissions would be reduced by 450 million tons a year. Strengthening a circular economy in which waste is used as a resource is a priority of the Dutch Presidency of the EU. The ideas of the Commission which were presented last December will be discussed with the other member states during the Dutch Presidency.
Acceleratio is proud to have been the initiator and one of the driving forces behind this initiative that combines the proven Dutch instrument of a “Green Deal” and a well timed concept of the North Sea Resources Roundabout.