Systemic, eco-innovative approaches for the circular economy: large-scale demonstration projects
The increasing resources' constraints that EU is facing strongly condition its competitiveness and the quality of life of individuals. Important gains in resource efficiency can be made by replacing current linear economic models with circular models of production and consumption,, which result, at the same time, in a substantial reduction of GHG emissions. While relying on industrial leadership, the success of circular economy models will depend on adopting a systemic approach to eco-innovation that encompasses value and supply chains in their entirety and engages all actors involved in such chains. A systemic approach entails foresight of the diverse impacts that transformative innovative solutions can have on the economy, environment and society at large. Side-effects of innovative practices can thus be addressed, e.g. change in energy policy due to a reduction of waste available for energy recovery. Bringing end-users closer to the design and production phases, and customising the production and delivery of goods and associated services can boost new consumption patterns that add greater value and reduce over-production, waste and other negative environmental impacts. The involvement of end-users in designing circular economic models that better respond to their needs can enable the development of value-added solutions and act as a driver for Europe's re-industrialisation.
Proposals shall address one of the following issues:
a) Design for circular value and supply chains (2016): Through large scale demonstration projects, organisations, including from process and manufacturing industries and SMEs, whether dealing with biotic and/or abiotic resources, are expected to test and showcase circular economy solutions based on re-design of value and supply chains, taking into account products, production processes, and/or systems, as well as involving final users. Such solutions should entail the environmentally sustainable recovery, recycling and/or re-use of resources and energy flows, including by cross-sectorial symbiosis, within the overall chain from resources to marketed products.
The proposals should enable entrepreneurs, industries and researchers to collectively implement the innovative solutions at an appropriate scale, which goes beyond a single production plant. They should develop new forms of organisation and governance within and across value and supply chain(s), considering where appropriate collaboration between public and private sectors. The proposals should include an outline business plan which can be developed further in the course of the project.
Where relevant, projects are expected to contribute to the implementation of the SPIRE PPP Roadmap.
For the technological innovation components, TRL 5-7 are to be aimed for (as defined in the General Annexes of this Work Programme). The EU Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) pilot programme[[http://iet.jrc.ec.europa.eu/etv/]] could be used to verify the performance of innovative technologies at higher TRLs.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 7 million and EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
b) Systemic services for the circular economy (2017): To demonstrate through large scale projects the economic and environmental feasibility of circular economic business models that underpin new services based on performance/functionality rather than ownership, and/or on mass customisation, including through supporting demand side measures. Proposals should adopt a systemic eco-innovative approach addressing all forms of innovation, combining technological, organisational, societal, cultural and behavioural innovation, and strengthening the participation of civil society. Such an approach can foster new forms of collaboration between end-users, producers and researchers. In particular proposals should consider ways of supporting co-creation by developing, experimenting and demonstrating new business models together with end-users, taking into consideration their needs, including gender dimension, thus enabling the development of value adding solutions. Business models that foster new services and consumption and production patterns will require support to end-users in the transition to the circular economy by raising awareness and knowledge sharing activities on circular economy models. The proposals should include an outline business plan which can be developed further in the course of the project.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 4 million and EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
For both: Within the projects funded, additional or follow-up funding should be sought, be it private or public, so as to achieve a more effective implementation and deployment at larger scale and scope of the innovative solutions addressed. Additional funding sources could include relevant regional/national schemes under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), such as under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), or other relevant funds such as the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA II). In the latter case, contacts could be established with the funds managing body during the duration of the projects. In case of relevance for the Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies, the project proposals could already indicate which interested regions/countries have been pre-identified. Please note, however, that reference to such additional or follow-up funding will not lead automatically to a higher score in the evaluation of the proposal.
Within the projects funded, possible regulatory barriers should also be addressed, as appropriate. In particular 'Innovation Deals' may be proposed. By 'Innovation Deal' a bottom-up approach to address regulatory bottlenecks to innovation is understood, that would take the form of voluntary agreements, with the European Commission and external stakeholders, with the aim of identifying and overcoming regulatory barriers and thus facilitating the market up-take of innovative solutions.
A life cycle thinking and assessment, in line with the recommendations and reference data from the European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment[[Data should be disseminated through nodes in the Life Cycle Data Network and studies through the Resource Directory (for further information refer to http://eplca.jrc.ec.europa.eu)]] when applicable, should be applied.
a) The testing and demonstration of circular value and supply chains, within cross sectorial, collaborative systemic approaches is expected to make measurable contributions in the medium term to:
- substantially improving the efficient use of resources in Europe, leading to significant reduction of adverse environmental impacts, including on climate change, and to optimisation of production;
- substantially reducing the generation of residual waste, by applying the principles of the waste hierarchy (as set in the Waste Framework Directive[[Directive 2008/98/EC]]), compared to current best practice;
- creating new business opportunities for industry and SMEs in the EU, including in manufacturing, contributing to the exploitation of EU innovative solutions, and improving the competitiveness of European enterprises in the global market for eco-innovative solutions;
- demonstrating the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of the proposed approaches and main elements that a business plan should include in order to realise them, including the assessment of possible positive and negative side-effects and risks, such as those associated with harmful substances potentially present in recycled materials;
- providing evidence-based knowledge for enabling framework conditions (such as the regulatory or policy framework) that facilitate a broader transition to the circular economy in the EU.
b) The testing and demonstrating of circular economic business models and services, including logistics and ICT capabilities, based on performance/functionality enhancement, is expected to measurably contribute in the medium term to:
- creating markets for new products/services (e.g. leasing or 'sharing' practices) which empower end-users in their choice for more sustainable consumption patterns, and require the implementation of innovative producer responsibility or other sectorial or cross-sectorial governance schemes;
- enabling the development of new approaches for designing products/services that collectively consider end-users, brand owners, as well as entrepreneurs, and researchers, and deliver the needs of end-users;
- reducing supply chain length, thus increasing resource efficiency and reducing adverse impacts on the environment, including on climate change;
- facilitating the inclusion of resource or materials criteria in designing products/services (e.g. durability, reparability and recyclability), thus contributing to an increase in resource and energy efficiency, and reduced environmental impacts, in the whole life cycle of products;
- creating new business opportunities for industry and SMEs in the EU, contributing to the exploitation of EU innovative solutions, and improving the competitiveness of European enterprises in the global market for eco-innovative solutions;
- demonstrating the economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability of the proposed approaches and main elements that a business plan should include in order to realise them, including the assessment of possible positive and negative side-effects and risks, such as those associated with harmful substances potentially present in recycled materials;
- providing evidence-based knowledge regarding the enabling framework conditions (such as the regulatory or policy framework or cultural factors) that facilitate a broader transition to a circular economy in the EU.