Focus on Circular Economy
On 29 October 2019, CEN and CENELEC hosted the Stakeholder Workshop “Materials – Value chains for circular economy: Metal, Wood, Plastic and Concrete” in Brussels. More than 200 participants from industry, science, NGOs, representatives of the European Union and other policymakers accepted the invitation and discussed challenges and needs in the circular economy.
Christoph Winterhalter, DIN Executive Board Chairman and CEN Vice President Policy, welcomed the workshop participants and encouraged all stakeholders to work together to develop a vision for the circular economy. This vision will provide the European standards organizations CEN & CENELEC a guideline for the development of concrete measures to strengthen the circular economy.
The first part of the workshop focused on the challenges and needs in the metal, wood, plastics and concrete value chains. The greatest challenges identified were the lack of terminology for the circular economy, the lack of an overarching framework, broad social acceptance of circular products and the associated economic aspects, a reliable exchange of information along the entire value chain as well as the creation of a foundation of trust between the market players in the value chain.
During the second part of the event, the participants discussed the cross-sectoral solutions and priorities in standardization. The participants pointed in particular to the development of a terminology standard to ensure a uniform understanding of circular economy. The measurability of circularity was also an important topic. Another issue raised was whether design requirements for circular products should be developed independently in each sector, or whether a horizontal, (i.e. cross-sectoral) approach is needed.
The participants deemed sector-specific rules as important for recycling – particularly with regard to the handling of contaminated and aged materials or the dismantling of buildings. They also identified a need to develop further standards on quality requirements for recycled materials. Everyone agreed that digitalization is of particular importance for the flow of information in the value chain. Standards could provide support in this area. Standards and specifications also have an important role to play in building trust in circular business models and products and thereby creating improved market and customer acceptance.
Mr. Winterhalter thanked the participants for the lively discussions and the positive feedback. He stressed that supporting the circular economy is a task that has to be accompanied by standardization over the long term and must be addressed through cooperation at the European and international level. He encouraged all those present to continue their active involvement in the future.
Benjamin Hein has been Head of Business Development Circular Economy at DIN since 1 August 2019 and is your contact partner at DIN for all issues related to the circular economy.