Policy models

Policy models

"Empowering Citizens through the implementation of a Social Enterprise for 3D Printing in


Author: Aimee Forcada

In recent years, Circular Economy CE has gained importance and momentum at EU level, it is considered an essential means to fight climate change in the Green Deal and European funding programmes.

One of the goals of FRONTSH1P is to highlight the importance of

Citizens Engagement within the entire system as an enabling factor for the regional transition towards the circular economy. The involvement of citizens in real processes, undertaking specific practices, will ensure the reducing and/or refusing of not necessary consumption of goods, and the reusing and extension of the life of such consumed goods.

One of the objectives of CSS4, dealing with Plastics and waste stream valorisation, include the use of 3D printing to repair households’ appliances.  In this context, FRONTSH1P CSS4 proposes the implementation of a Social Enterprise committed to having positive environmental and social impacts. By using recycled materials as feedstock for production, in this case plastic waste, the social enterprise would produce filaments for the 3D printing, diverting such waste from landfills and giving a new life as a valuable resource. The Social enterprise would also address social issues by providing employment opportunities for citizens living in social housing and degraded blocks, alleviating social inequalities, and promoting inclusion.

While keeping in mind a circular approach when valorising plastic residues and highlighting the importance of citizens' role in minimising the negative impact of plastic pollution, FRONTSH1P interrelation between several other Work Packages is essential for a valid implementation of the objectives within CSS4. In this case, Data monitoring and management conducted in Work Package 2 are central factors, accounted from the early stages of the developing CE model.

Five macro focus areas have been identified as part of a Circular economy place-based monitoring framework (Public sphere, Private sector, Education, Society and Environment) and each of them will contain their own sets of micro-areas and indicators.

In conclusion, the results and data obtained in each of the four CSSs and more specifically in CSS4 through the implementation of the initiatives such as the Social enterprise, will contribute to implement and exploit an all-encompassing monitoring system that will be able to measure every aspect relevant for the transition toward a circular model.

DG Growth Calls EU Regions to Prepare the Ground for the Transposition of DPPs regulations

In November Veltha hosted an online workshop, Public-Private Bottom-Up Definition of Digital Product Passport, as part of the Policy Lab, addressing the current subject of Digital Product Passports. Speakers from different perspectives came together to share their experience, expectations and knowledge about Digital Product Passports (DPPs) and the systems and legislation that surround it.

What is a Digital Product Passport?

There is not yet a general answer to the question of what a digital product passport is, as it is an evolving concept. What is clear though, is that it is a system to promote sustainability and circularity by providing stakeholders and consumers with relevant product data.

Insights from the Speakers

Moderated by Luca Polidori, Secretary General at Veltha, we had the pleasure of hearing both business and policy perspectives, and gained an insight into innovative projects that are in relation to the development and usage of DPPs.

Nora Åsling (Veltha, Project Assistant) presented Task 6.5 of the H2020 DigiPrime project and its relation to DPPs

Rigo Wenning (ERCIM, Legal Counsel) presented the newly launched The Ecosystem Digital Product Passport (CIRPASS) project

Mario Malzacher (Circular.Fashion, Co-Founder) presented their work with digital information carriers, and insights from a business perspective 

Michele Galatola (European Commission, Policy Officer, Green and Circular Economy) spoke of the benefits of a DPP system and what will be the required next steps 

Bente Bauer (Policy Hub, Director of Public Affairs) gave insights on the thoughts and expectations on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) and DPPs from a business perspective  

Thomas Götz (Wuppertal Institute, Co-Head of Research Unit Energy Policy: Energy, Transport and Climate Policy) presented the report: Digital Product Passport: the ticket to achieving a climate neutral and circular European economy?

Sascha Bloemhoff (Niaga, Marketing Director) presented insights, ideas and concerns on DPPs, alongside their Niaga®Tag

Andrea D’Intino (Dyne, Program Manager) presented the REFLOW project & the Interfacer project and its relation to DPPs

The speakers shared important insights into both the current use of digital information carriers as well as future obstacles that need to be overcome to ensure that the benefits of a DPP system are maximised. The topic of the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation was as well a recurring subject during the workshop.

In addition, what can be done at a regional level today was discussed. Michele Galatola from the European Commission, stated that the most fundamental and topical step ahead of regions at present, is to “prepare the ground for the implementation”, and highlighted concrete examples, such as reinforcing the technical knowledge within respective regions, which will be needed in due course.

November 29, 2022

The Circular Economy And Its Benefits: Why The European Electronic Waste Directive is Necessary as a Strategic Resource for the Circular Economy

Where does Europe stand in E-waste and its regulations?

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the EU (and globally) and will have harmful consequences if not managed properly. In addition, it contains valuable and critical raw materials, the recycling of which is essential for a more circular economy and possible strategic autonomy open for the EU. Growing consumption and technological advancement and digitization is predicted to change, and with that, the challenges in waste management are expected to arise in the upcoming years. (1)

WEEE legislation was first enacted in 2002 to prevent or reduce the adverse effects of WEEE on the EU environment and human health. (2) In 2012 the European Commission has reviewed and recast the Directive[1] , [Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)].

In the following period 2022/2023, the Commission foresees an assessment on whether the WEEE Directive still fits for purpose. The directive sets increasingly stringent collection and recycling targets. Separate collection of electrical and electronic equipment from unsorted municipal waste is a prerequisite for proper disposal. (3) 

How do we classify e-waste? 

E-Waste can be classified according to the source and use of electrical equipment. There are ten different types of e-waste recognized globally (Figure 1) (4). The average percentage for each e-waste category can vary based on many factors, including socioeconomic conditions, consumer behaviour, population, and the dependence of businesses and households on electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) (5). Nevertheless, large household items are the main contributor to e-waste (42.1%), followed by IT and telecommunications (33.9%), consumer appliances (13.7%), and small household appliances (4.7%) (6) Contributions from other categories are lower (medical, lighting, power, and electronic tools < 2%, and automatic dispensers, toys, sports, monitoring, and control equipment < 1%) (6) to improve readability. In developing countries, e-waste is dominated by televisions, computers, and mobile phones (7).

What are the challenges of E-waste management and opportunities?

Electronic and electrical waste needs to be addressed not just in terms of its recycling process but also in terms of composition, since it contains metals with different physicochemical properties. If the substances containing these hazardous compounds are not properly disposed of, they may cause serious environmental threats. Proper waste management techniques have become a global priority to mitigate human health risks and environmental degradation. (7) 

Although all the necessary laws to collect and recycle e-waste are in place, handling and disposing of e-waste remains a challenge due to its mix of hazardous, valuable, non-precious materials. Generally speaking, e-waste is composed of 40% metals, 30% plastic polymers, and 30% oxides of various materials(9). E-waste contains valuable materials (Ag, Au and Pd), basic materials (Cu, Al, Ni, Sn, Zn, Fe, Bi, Sb and In), hazardous materials (Hg, Be, Pb, Cd and As) , halogen materials (Br, F, Cl) as well as plastics, glass, and ceramics (10).

The particular challenge of e-waste management is recycling valuable rare earth and usable materials while discarding hazardous materials. Waste management hazards include handling hazardous chemicals such as CFC fluids, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, machine safety, manual handling of large objects, electrical safety, cutting and abrasion risks, and fire and explosion risks (9). 

o address these challenges since 2003, EU legislation restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment through the RoHS Directive [Directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2011 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment] At the same time, the WEEE Directive encourages the collection and recycling of such equipment. The RoHS Directive currently restricts the use of ten substances: lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP). (7)

What else? 

Other challenges in e-waste management include a limited environmentally-friendly number of chemical liquids approved for e-waste management, the lack of infrastructure, the existence of thermodynamic limitations to separate complex mixture of materials resulting in low recycling costs, financial and political support, especially for developing countries, and countries’ inconsistent legislation with significant differences. (7)

The example of gold and copper

The prospects and opportunities deriving from an efficient recycling process of e-waste are crucial. As mentioned earlier, e-waste contains precious metals that can be recovered through municipal e-waste mining. A typical example of this type of urban mining is that up to 1.5 kg of gold and 210 kg of copper can be extracted from one ton of circuit boards (11). Precious metal concentrations are far superior to ore primary mining. For example, conventionally mined gold from ore has a gold content of 5 g/t (10) and copper content of 5.25 kg/t (11). These figures suggest that the gold and copper concentrations in urban mines are 30 to 40 times higher than in ore. The recycling of these precious metals can generate substantial profits when the proper business model is used. (7)

Effects on human health

Another perspective on e-waste management is connected to the environmental and human health benefits (12). Today, human health and environmental issues are seen as priority issues (13). However, in developing countries, e-waste disposal has never been seen as a serious problem, resulting in poor and unsafe health and environmental conditions around landfills (14). Therefore, the adoption and implementation of e-waste management strategies, policies, and laws can greatly improve these conditions. (7)

What are the EU actions? 

Despite what has just been discussed, the separate collection of WEEE remains a major challenge for most Member States. The Commission has launched a compliance initiative to assess best practices and deficiencies in implementing the directive, including the separate collection of WEEE. Member States have also assessed WEEE handling practices with a view to further harmonizing, building on practical experience in applying the handling standards initiated by the Commission

A review by the European Court of Auditors found that EU member states collect and recycle more end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment than the rest of the world. The review addresses measures and challenges related to the implementation of existing e-waste management requirements; poor e-waste management; illegal shipments and other criminal activities; and increased e-waste collection, recycling, and reuse. (16)

According to an overview published on 20 May 2021, the EU currently recycles around 80% of the e-waste it collects. However, the collection, recycling, and reuse of e-waste are not equally effective in all EU member states

October 18, 2022