Happy Birthday Veltha, a Story of Circular Economy
On 10th of May 2010 Veltha was set up in collaboration with Università della Tuscia of Viterbo-Italy with the scope to join the European research family in the fields of environment, sustainable development and eco-innovation Working on these fields, also through EU funded projects, Veltha realized in the early stage the importance of the CE for a new systemic approach to our resources supply chain.
After the adoption by the European Commission of the “Manifesto for a resource-efficient Europe” and the first report of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation “Towards a circular economy” , in 2013 the Circular Economy became for Veltha the main target of research and commitment to enable the transition to this new vision.
The first EU “Circular economy action plan” in 2015 stated that:
The transition to a more circular economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised, is an essential contribution to the EU’s efforts to develop a sustainable, low carbon, resource-efficient and competitive economy.
Since its publication Veltha has faced different aspects of CE with a bottom-up approach, involving local authorities and stakeholders to identify CE potential value chains and to define a monitoring framework for CE with the related assessment criteria.
The collaboration with more than 25 European regions and more than 900 stakeholders during the Screen project were synthesized in 2017 in a permanent Policy Lab still working on policy instruments for Circular Economy and regional officers training.
On the production side, Veltha established in these years relationships with several emerging industrial clusters, cross-sectoral value chains and academia. The interest has been extended to textile, construction, automotive, bio-based industry fertilizers and other linked sectors.
At the time research has been enlarged from the policy of the beginning to further aspects like materials and technologies enabling the CE, new business model and organizational solutions for SMEs as well as ICT solutions for the CE implementation.
These activities, coming from the experience on the field, anticipated the recommendations of the new “Circular economy action plan“ just published by the European Commission, positioning Veltha as a front-runner in the research on CE.
On the 10th of May 2020, after ten years, Veltha is involved in two EU funded project on the circular economy. The first is an Interreg project, REPLACE, where Veltha has the role of advisory partner to transfer its experience to the regional managing authorities in the preparation of the next multiannual programme; the second is an H2020 project, DigiPrime, aiming at building an ecosystem for the production phase of the circular economy and the ICT services it needs.
This is Veltha so far, but what about the future?
The new circular economy action plan states that:
This Circular Economy Action Plan provides a future-oriented agenda for achieving a cleaner and more competitive Europe in co-creation with economic actors, consumers, citizens and civil society organisations.
Such a co-creation at the time still object of study and discussion, many different business models showing different aspects of sustainability and a lot of study cases are available as results of different approaches to CE. Moreover, several implementation examples of CE are based on internal innovations along the manufacturing processes and products affecting only one firm or a small group of them linked in symbiosis. The production phase needs more knowledge, more time, more investment than the other ones to set up a full circular value chain and each of these value chains would enable cross-link with other value chains. Materials, products and machinery for new processes are still missing and the sustainability of such substitutes still to demonstrate.
Veltha will continue to work on these aspects to identify time and priorities for a transition at macro level towards the CE.