Circular Economy

    By 2050, global consumption of materials such as biomass, fossil fuels, metals and minerals is expected to double, while annual waste generation is projected to increase by 70% (EU, 2020). Valorising waste creates opportunities for import substitution and reinforces the economic benefits of regional supply-chains to Irish companies.


    Business In The Community (2019) define the Circular Economy as an economic model that attempts to decouple “economic activity from the consumption of finite resources.” Rather than the traditional, linear “TAKE – MAKE – DISPOSE” model, circular principles seek to recover and preserve the embedded value in materials, components, and products.

    Figure 1 Linear versus Circular Economies (Pont, Robles and Gil, 2019)

    In 2018, agriculture represented circa. 32.7% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (CIRCULÉIRE, 2020). Implementing circular principles at scale, such as developing bio-based by-products and co-products for secondary raw material markets, offers the Agri-food sector in Ireland an opportunity to reduce the sector’s emissions and resource use.


    Ireland is home to over 90 biopharma manufacturing plants, including 14 of the world’s top 15 multinationals (CIRCULÉIRE, 2020). The application of circular principles to this sector is recognised by the European Federation of Pharmaceuticals Industries and Associations (EFPIA) as a significant element to the reduction of the sector’s carbon footprint. Shifting to renewable biomaterials and the reduction of waste through energy recovery are some such circular principles.


    On Friday 27th of November, CIRCULÉIRE – Ireland’s first cross-sectoral industry-led innovation network dedicated to accelerating the net-zero carbon circular economy strategy, was launched. CIRCULÉIRE is a public-private partnership co-created by; Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR), the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EIT Climate-KIC. Its foundation also involved twenty-five Industry Members including Wyeth Nutrition, Kerry Group, Coca-Cola, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, DePuy Synthes, Pfizer, Hovione and MSD. CIRCULÉIRE’s initial objective is to source, test, finance and scale circular manufacturing systems, supply chains and circular business models to deliver significant reductions in both CO2 emissions and waste (CIRCULÉIRE, 2020).


    One of the main blocks of the European Green Deal – Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth, is The Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP 2.0). In this plan, it is stated that the implementation of circular economy principles will increase the EU’s GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030 while creating 700,000 new jobs (EU, 2020). Business In The Community (2019) state that 60% of Climate Change could be solved with a fully circular economy, it is estimated that currently, the world is only 8% circular. Ireland’s circular material use rate is currently 1.6% which is a long way off the European average of 11.7% (Maguire, 2020).



    De Angelis, R. (2018) ‘Sustainable Development, Corporate Sustainability and the Circular Economy’, in De Angelis, R. (ed.) Business Models in the Circular Economy: Concepts, Examples and Theory.

    Pont, A., Robles, A. and Gil, J. (2019) ‘e-WASTE: everything an ICT scientist and developer should know.’

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