VIRTUOUS CIRCLES – Building a Circular Economy in Portugal


Tivoli Congress Centre, Lisbon

Last Friday Cresting researchers Natacha Klein and Katelin Opferkuch attended a conference titled “Virtuous Circles: Building a Circular Economy in Portugal” hosted by the European Commission in Lisbon.  Speakers from Industry and Government, both Portuguese and international, were invited to discuss the present reality of waste management in Portugal in relation to progress seen in other European Union countries.

The debates centered on achievements made since the development of the Portuguese Action Plan for Circular Economy in 2017, as well as key opportunities for improvement in the coming years.  Speakers from non-Portuguese contexts provided valuable recommendations to drive investment for local circular projects such as; adapting traditional Portuguese industrial activities to increase re-manufacturing of materials and implementing a national resource efficiency strategy in order to increase competitiveness of Portuguese industry.

One major takeaway was the urgent need for stronger regulatory bodies to enforce fines for actors who are not complying with waste management legislation.  It was repeatedly discussed that non-compliance in Portugal has no consequences for companies.

Currently, Lisbon’s recycling rate is at a low 33% of total waste collected, forcing the city to implement ambitious schemes to improve all stages of waste management.  One exciting update will be the increase in the number of local eco-centres throughout the metropolitan region of Lisbon.  At these eco-centres citizens can access repair services for household items, as well as act as collection points for unusual materials to be recycled.  Other Portuguese circular economy initiatives demonstrated how the country is willing to take circularity to the next level.

Overall, there was a strong sense of support for circular economy initiatives from the Portuguese Government.  So much so, that the Minister of Environment and Energy Transition – João Pedro Matos Fernande declared that “linearity is no longer an option.”



Cresting researchers share their experience of Workshop 2 in Utrecht, Netherlands

Cresting researchers Katelin Opferkuch, Erik Roos Lindgreen and Anna Walker have written a short feature in a newsletter (Page 9) of AISME (Italian Academia for Commodity Sciences), published yesterday.  The researchers share their experience of the second Cresting Workshop in Utrecht, Netherlands earlier this year.



Cresting researchers at UTT use community mapping workshops at the Barséquanais to explore territorial capabilities for sustainability

The research team CREIDD from the University of Technology in Troyes (UTT), France, in partnership with the Chênelet Institute and the Communaute de Communes de Barséquanais, launched the Grand Chambardement project last week in Bar sur Seine. The project is looking for the sustainable re-dynamisation of the territory of Barséquanais using a participatory and collaborative methodology.  As part of the first stage of the project, Santiago Perez, doctoral candidate at the UTT and Cresting Early Stage Researcher (ESR), in collaboration with students from the masters IMEDD programme from the same university, designed and put in place four workshop sessions all along the territory of the Barséquanais.  The workshops used a participatory community mapping methodology to build a diagnosis of the towns visited and to do an initial exploration of the territorial potential of the inhabitants of each town.

For the second part of the project, another week of workshops will take place in July 2019. Citizens will be invited to identify potential synergies among the different actors that could enable the development of collaborative strategies to empower the community towards their territorial sustainability.  The activities planned include conferences introducing the Circular Economy and a Design Thinking workshop to be held by Estephania Delgadillo, doctoral candidate at the UTT and Cresting ESR, where different territorial actors will be invited to conceptualise innovative circular business models for satisfying the needs of the territory.

Cresting Team travels to USA to deliver thought provoking discussions on the Circular Economy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Earlier this month members of the Cresting Team travelled to New York and Washington D.C. to be part of International Sustainable Development Research Society expert panel providing thought provoking discussions on how the Circular Economy might contribute to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The visit helped to establish connections with researchers and policy makers interested in the circular economy.


The team presented to a specially convened event at the United Nations, hosted and introduced by Ms. Wenyan Yang, Chief, Global Dialogue for Social Development Branch, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Inclusive Social Development (second from right in above picture).  Prof Chris Dickey, Director of Global Health, NYU College of Global Public Health, also spoke (second from left in above picture).

A second policy-focused event was held at EU Parliament Liaison Office in Washington DC (left).  Here the team presented approaches to CE research including life cycle analysis, public sector/sustainability indicators, and geographic/social approaches. The audience comprised representatives of several member states’ EU delegations. Prof Victoria Kiechel, architect in the American University Global Environmental Politics Programme, moderated the session.

Professor Roberta Salomone commented “It was a wonderful opportunity to share some of  the team’s research issues with a new audience. In the field of Circular Economy (CE), Roberta Salomone introduced the specific research topic concerning the measurement of the impacts of a CE (or the progress towards a CE) with a focus on the micro level. She highlighted that many open questions and disagreements still emerge in literature and proposed the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method as a suitable and effective method that businesses can implement to start a commitment towards CE, also providing some provoking examples of comparison between circular metrics and LCA results”.

At the New York University the team presented to students, primary from the Stern Center for Sustainable Business and the College of Global Public Health.  The panel was introduced by Prof Tensie Whelan Director, Center for Sustainable Business and Prof Chris Dickey.  Discussion with staff leading the research, teaching and administration of sustainability was held at George Washington University, Washington DC.

These events were organised by the European Union Association in cooperation with the International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS), New York University, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and the ASEM-UN NGOs group.


The Panel comprised (from left to right in the picture to the left) Dr Pauline Deutz, Reader in the Department of Geography, Geology and Environment, and president of ISDRS; Professor Roberta Salomone, Department of  Economics, University of Messina; Dr Tomás Ramos, Centre for Environmental and Sustainability Research, School of Science and Technology (CENSE), NOVA University;  Prof Peter Dobers from Södertörn University in Sweden, and vice president of ISDRS.  In addition, Prof Zengwei Yuan, Nanjing University (Cresting partner and host of ISDRS conference 2019) had intended to join the group, but did not receive a visa to visit the US.    His research and the Nanjing conference were briefly introduced by the other panel members.


The UK Plastics Pact and Cresting project join forces to combat plastic waste

CRESTING has joined the UK Plastics Pact, launched in 2018 by WRAP. This collaborative initiative unites public, private and social actors to transform the plastic economy in a sustainable and circular manner.

Plastics are the most ubiquitous materials of modern times. Polymers have become essential for every aspect of our economy, including healthcare, food and transportation and electronics. They are inexpensive and energy saving, which allows them to effectively substitute expensive and increasingly scarce rare materials like metals, woods and natural fibers. However, the lack of effective mechanisms for their recycling, recovery and disposal has turned them into a critical environmental problem. In Europe, 28.8 million tons of plastic are generated every year (representing over 10% of global plastic waste). Only about 30% of EU plastic waste is recycled (of which over 56% is recycled outside of the EU, often in suboptimal conditions), 39% is incinerated, and 39% is landfilled. Between 150 and 250 tons of plastic waste enter EU oceans every year causing large impacts on marine life and important costs for the EU’s tourism and fishing sectors.[1]

To combat this problem, the UK Plastic Pact, brings together stakeholders across the plastic value chain, including businesses, NGOs, Universities and public institutions in their shared objective to create a new circular economy for plastics. By 2025, The UK Plastics Pact seeks to transform the plastic packaging sector by meeting four core targets:

  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation, or alternative (reuse) delivery models
  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging

These targets are in line, and often reach beyond, the EU action plan on Plastics, which seeks to:

  • Ensure that by 2030 all plastic packaging placed on the EU market can be reused or recycled in a cost-effective manner.
  • Recycle 50% of all plastic waste 2030
  • Recycle of 55% of plastic packaging waste by 2030
  • Oblige member States to monitor and reduce their marine litter
  • Increase fourfold the EU’s plastic recycling capacity.
  • Demand for recycled plastics in Europe grows four-fold.

Pauline Deutz, Cresting Project Co-ordinator commented “I’m delighted that Cresting is working together with WRAP and the UK Plastics Pact – a collaborative initiative that will create a circular economy for plastics.  Plastics are an important consideration in the Cresting project and we welcome the opportunity to participate in this transformative project; the roadmap to 2025; and to engage with the stakeholders who might find our work useful.

The UK Plastic Pact is part of the Global Plastics Pact, an international initiative lead by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and which includes the French National Pact lead by the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition. Global action on plastics is reaching a new height and new ideas and innovations for the plastic economy are now more important than ever. By establishing ground-braking research CRESTING hope to positively contribute to this challenge and generate transformative social and environmental change.


New maps show extent of marine litter

Cresting welcomes the launch of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) new digital maps of beach and seafloor litter, providing a comprehensive information tool for marine policy and wider society.  Find out more about the tool and where marine litter ends up in our seas and oceans here.