Friday, 30 May 2014

Green Week 2014: SusChem working for the Circular Economy

Green Week is Europe’s biggest annual conference on environmental policy and takes place next week from 3 to 5 June in Brussels. Its themes for 2014 – the circular economy and resource efficiency – are topics where SusChem and its major European public private partnerships - the SPIRE PPP and the Biobased Industries JTI – are already taking a lead.

The 2014 edition of Green Week will take place at The Egg Conference Centre, Rue Bara, in Brussels. SusChem, SPIRE and the Biobased Industries JTI are all supporting initiatives that can deliver a working circular economy in Europe, improve resource and energy efficiency and reduce waste. SusChem representatives will be speaking during the Green Week conference.

SusChem fully supports the concept of a circular economy as one of the logical solutions for a resource-constrained world. In the circular economy almost nothing is wasted, the re-use and remanufacturing of products is standard practice, and sustainability is a core element in the fabric of society.

Delivering a circular economy
These elements of a circular economy are all concepts that SusChem has embraced since its formation in 2004 and has supported with practical research and innovation projects.

Current SusChem inspired projects funded under FP7 in this area include Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R), the Critical Raw Materials Innovation Network (CRM_InnoNet), BIO-TIC. And SusChem is also very engaged with issues around reducing fresh water use by industry.

And, of course, the SPIRE PPP is all about dramatically increasing resource and energy efficiency across a wide range of process industries.

Our SusChem stakeholder event in mid June will discuss the priorities in our new 2014 SusChem Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA). The SIRA will further outline our thinking in this area and the practical research and innovation activities that are required to turn the concepts of a circular society and radically improved resource efficiency into reality.

During 2014 the European Commission is setting out new proposals enabling Europe to unlock the potential of the circular economy, underlining the need to change our way of thinking about design. There will also be a focus on better waste management, and on how it can help the EU use its resources more efficiently. SusChem looks forward to working with the Commission to enable this potential to be fulfilled.

Spain starts early!
In fact for SusChem Green Week has already started with an official Green Week satellite event: The Third Forum on Sustainable Chemistry: Innovative and Competitive Companies (SCICC) that took place in Tarragona, Spain on 28 and 29 May. Tarragona is home to the largest chemical cluster in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. The event was organised by SusChem Spain.

In line with the main themes of Green Week 2014, the Forum focused on the concept of the circular economy as an economic system based on reuse of resources, energy and resource efficiency – areas where the contribution of sustainable chemistry is essential.

Speakers in the opening plenary on Wednesday 28 May included SusChem board member Gernot Klotz of Cefic, who spoke on how the chemical industry is effectively supplying the roots for sustainable growth in Europe, and Lorenzo Valles of the European Commission who outlined the role that the SusChem inspired SPIRE PPP will be playing to deliver increased energy efficiency and sustainable resources.

Other sessions covered topics such as ‘efficiency and design’, ‘resource efficiency’, ‘energy efficiency and process intensification’, and ‘by-product valorisation’. This last session included presentations on the potential use of CO2 as a feedstock for the chemical industry.

The forum closed with some concluding remarks by SusChem Europe chairman Dr Klaus Sommer.

The main purpose of SCICC was to promote the debate and the sharing of knowledge on new processes and chemical products that are more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly and can form the basis of a truly circular economy. A great start to Green Week 2014!

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