Content of this unit
Challenges in implementing circular economy

Various challenges may be faced when implementing circular economy, particularly in the development and adoption of more efficient production processes, the development and testing of technologies and materials (where possible), the sustainable exploitation of primary raw materials, the adoption of policies and tools that encourage the circularity of goods and services, processes and activities etc.

Investigation & Innovation can intervene at production and product life cycle levels, replacing the paradigm of quantity and rapid uselessness of objects, for the primacy of quality, durability and sufficiency, exploring new business models, behaviors and consumption. Governance and territory, the development of knowledge, competences and tools will be decisive so that circular economy is no longer only a concept but a practice. The transition to circular economy is based on the active participation of all actors in the value chain, from producers to consumers, based on systemic, multidisciplinary approaches, collaborative and co-designed solutions as a lever for change.

The main challenges faced while implementing circular economy:

  • Not all circular models are sustainable. An integrated life cycle assessment (environmental, economic and social) is required for validation, improvement and monitoring;
  • Benefits of circular economy implementation will not be the same for all industries and businesses. Industries and businesses associated with intensive consumption of virgin raw materials may lose jobs;
  • The transition process requires time, political measures, market signals, support to companies (investment in R & D, training, demonstration, communication, etc), consumer intervention (awareness raising, incentives);
  • The transition process requires changes on current legislation for waste management;
  • The secondary materials produced from recycled materials can have low quality criteria;
  • The transition from a linear to a circular economy may have several financial barriers;
  • Lack of incentives for eco-design and use of secondary materials;
  • Lack of financing for starting circular businesses;
  • Current patterns of consumption (sense of ownership, etc.);
  • Lack of information / communication about circular economy;
  • Lack of knowledge / need for R & D;
  • Lack of support on supply and demand networks.