The Spanish economy faces an immediate future marked by the pressing need to combat the threats posed to growth by the effects of the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine, materialized in runaway inflation and tensions in supply chains that aggravate our structural problems and endanger the competitiveness of goods and services.
Boosting the economy, before the most pessimistic predictions come true, requires increasing competitiveness , in a favorable, predictable and stable regulatory framework that allows companies – and especially small and medium-sized ones – to operate, invest and promote excellence , innovation and sustainability and address the threats of climate change and efficiency in the use of resources.
In a transversal way, to achieve this sustainable and efficient economy in the use of resources, the extension of the principles of the Circular Economy , which, in the Industry, has been its most developed way of doing things, must be part and not a minor part of the solution.
The Circular Economy strategy is the core of industrial activity and its reason for being. The Industry has always sought the maximum use of resources , turning waste into valuable raw materials to be reintegrated into the production cycle of new goods and services. The very concept of waste was reconverted in industrial activity into secondary raw material to be one more link in the product life cycle chain.
The “Seven Rs” of the Circular Economy: Redesign products to improve their useful life; Reduce direct consumption; Reuse to prolong the life of products; Renew the use of old objects to overcome their obsolescence; Repair instead of scrap; Recycle; and Recovering used materials for the production of new products, are part of the “commandments” of industrial activity and can be included in a single “R”: Rationalize the production and consumption of goods and services.
The Circular Economy has allowed the Industry to reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials and the impact of its activity on the environment, eliminating discharges, noise, occupation of space and emissions. In other words, it has made it more productive and competitive, more efficient and more sustainable in the use of resources.
At a time of scarcity of energy and raw materials, the Circular Economy can be favored by the application of new information and communication technologies, and by the extension of environmental education.
The Circular Economy, on its way to generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, is a decisive factor in driving innovation and qualification and generating new opportunities for economic growth.
Investing in it, promoting it, not only allows reducing waste, consumption and environmental impacts. It also generates employment in the management and recovery of waste and in the development and production of equipment and systems to ensure efficiency and use of resources. The very redesign of products and processes for reuse is a niche of activity and employment.
In a scenario of scarcity and fluctuation in energy prices and raw materials, the Circular Economy contributes to guaranteeing the security of the supply of essential resources, reducing their costs and better managing flows.
From the point of view of industrial companies, the Circular Economy represents an opportunity in terms of production, but also to bring to other sectors of activity the industrial know-how in the transformation, processing, manufacturing and obsolete products that, for Industry, have always been valuable resources.
But, for waste to become secondary raw materials and enter the production chain again, it requires globally accepted standards and specifications that regulate the activity and homogeneity of criteria to prevent this area from being another example of a breakdown of unity market in Spain.
An intelligent Circular Economy policy must be committed to creating markets and defining quality standards for secondary raw materials, and avoiding uncertainties, lack of definition and unnecessary burdens that harm their competitiveness, without compromising the safety and quality of products and services.
The regulation of the Circular Economy cannot be unmanageable for the market players and for the administrations in charge of ensuring its compliance, because this would put the activity itself at risk and discourage innovation and investment in the Circular Economy.
Punishing the development of the Circular Economy with obstacles, taxes and fees goes against the environment, progress and almost against history. But also against the opportunity that its application represents for activity and employment.