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Circular economy: public decision-makers in search of proposals and debates


The circular economy will either be collaborative or it simply will not be. This seems to be the meaning of the recently multiplying calls for debate or proposals on this subject. In Brussels, as in Paris, the public authorities are asking the general public, businesses and associations for help in building this new fledgling economy. It is a grassroots-oriented approach that thus dovetails fully with the foundations of this new economic model based precisely on proximity and direct local action. Focus on the latest initiatives to date.

In 2014, the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development laid the foundations for this collaborative approach to the circular economy. The scope of its call for proposals entitled “zero waste, zero wastage” was limited to local governments which were asked to undertake waste reduction, recycling or reuse projects. The success of the initiative was such that in December its initiators ended up choosing 58 projects instead of the 20 originally planned. Among the winners were the town of Roubaix, which mobilised 101 families around the challenge of reducing their waste by 50% per year and the urban community of Bordeaux involved in a “positive supply district” project aimed at recycling biowaste. So many ideas on a local scale, but which may prompt other players in other local areas to reproduce them.

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More than projects, for its part, the European Commission is looking for opinions. In order to prepare a new series of measures to promote the circular economy by the end of 2015, it has launched a public consultation until the end of August 2015. The goal: to gather opinions on the main foreseeable options to encourage “both consumers and businesses to use resources more efficiently”. The people, companies and all interested stakeholders, whether governmental or not, are invited to respond to questions on different elements of the economic cycle and on their role in the transition towards a circular economy. Note: although addressed to everyone, the questionnaire of more than 25 pages does not at all resemble an opinion survey for the general public. It requires good rudimentary familiarity with the issue of the circular economy.

In turn, the Paris City Hall has launched a call for projects “Heading for the circular economy” among associations, whether Parisian or not, within the framework of the Greater Paris General Status Reports on the circular economy. Candidates had until 1 June 2015 to prepare a submission that had to meet three criteria:
– be innovative in nature
– include a participatory dimension
– offer free actions to Parisians
… and be about one of the five following topics:
– food, from urban agriculture to biowaste;
– development, from eco-design to green sites;
– new savings, functionality and reuse;
– product eco-design and life cycle (with current consumption and equipment);
– recycling recovered energy;
– industrial and local ecology.
The approach of this call for proposals is also very pragmatic. In addition to their innovative nature, the proposals will be judged by September on such criteria as feasibility and reproducibility and must be implemented by 30 November 2015.