Webinar “Circular economy: Producer Responsibility and Waste-to-energy”

Shifting towards circularity and sharing were the key messages from the first webinar on circular economy in a series, organised in the framework of the Norwegian Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States’ Expert Group on Sustainable Development (CBSS EGSD). Great examples of existing cooperation at national and regional level on how to address the issues emerging in countries’ transition to circular economy were presented by seven expert speakers.

There was agreement on the way forward: governments should help to facilitate the transition via green public procurement policies, although a key starting point is the behavioural change of individuals and consumers.

The example of Estonia’s strategic approach and action plan 2021-2035, presented by Krista Kupits, Chief specialist of the Department of Environmental Management at the Estonian Ministry for Environment, on how to change the mindset and entrepreneurship based on a circular economy model set an inspiring scene.

The Nordic Vision2030, introduced to us by Inger Johanne Wiese, Chair of the Nordic Circular Economy Working Group at the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, aiming to promote green, competitive, and inclusive societies, as well as encouraging coordination and the pursuit of synergies among the Nordic countries, to ensure a more aligned green transition, were also very inspiring presentations.

However, without the engagement of business, it would be difficult to achieve the needed transition. Director of Denmark’s PlanMiljø ApS Bjørn Bauer outlined their business model as a remarkable example of how to save resources, making the case for the transition from selling goods to providing services business models, thus encouraging producer ownership and responsibility.

The second half of the seminar concentrated on the experience concerning energy recovery from waste and applying Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology. Technical & Scientific Officer Fabio Poretti of CEWEP (Confederation of European Waste to Energy Plants) – the umbrella association of Waste-to-Energy (incineration with energy recovery) plants operators representing around 410 plants from 23 countries – shared the results of their studies, experience and contributions to the EU Green Deal and the overall transition to ciruclarity.

The example of systemic change in the energy sector, presented by the CPMR Baltic Sea Commission’s Markku Markkula, Chair of the Energy and Climate Working Group, demonstrated an inspiring cooperation model among local governments. The platform includes 68 ongoing circularity actions and over 300 actors.

The world’s first full-scale CCS project was introduced by Jannicke G. Bjerkås, CCS Director of the energy production company Fortum Oslo Varme AS, emphasising the need for a regulatory incentive or mechanism to encourage the application of innovative technologies.

Also the Krakowski Holding Kommunalny (Krakow’s Waste to Energy Plant) board member Jakub Bator shared their experience of supporting the economy to decrease the dependency on fossil carbon raw material and to stabilize electricity grid and markets with respect to a growing share of fluctuating renewable energy.

Questions related to economic viability, as well as support from the state and regional authorities, were also emphasised by Maxim Titov, Executive Director of the Energy Policy Research Center (ENERPO) in St. Petersburg, who presented the Waste to Energy projects in the city.

This was the first of a series of webinars organised by the Norwegian presidency of the CBSS EGSD. The upcoming webinars will focus on circular economy, industrial green transitions, and industrial symbiosis, which are the priority themes of the Norwegian Presidency of the Expert Group.