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  • Aasavari Joshi

Circular Economy and Trade Workshop in the Philippines

On the 2nd of December 2022, Apoorva Arya, co-founder and CEO of the Circular Innovation Lab (CIL), conducted a workshop on Circular Economy (CE) for the International Trade Centre (ITC) at the National Exporters' Week 2022 in the Philippines hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The workshop began with an introduction to the circular economy concept, followed by an outline of the European Union's (EU) Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), which was analysed in the context of global developments in CE. The workshop also explored CE and trade and concluded with a few words on CIL and our work.

The introduction helped the audience understand what CE is. It underlined how by transitioning to a CE, we move from a linear take-make-dispose economic model to a restorative and regenerative one. Apoorva Arya then talked about the CEAP 2015 and its action areas such as production, consumption, waste management, critical raw materials, and innovation and investment, to name a few of the 54 actions put forth. The action plan has also mapped out goals such as improving waste management, preventing the creation of Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), retrieving secondary raw materials through recovery, reuse and recycling, reducing landfilling, and preventing illegal shipments of WEEE. The CEAP 2015 - Ecodesign Directive and Ecodesign Working Plan 2015-2017 was also outlined. Its goals include promoting the reparability, upgradability, durability, and recyclability of products. The final successful outcome of CEAP 2015 encouraged 11 cities, 8 regions, and 14 EU member states to submit circular economy plans, and adopt and put into practice all 54 actions.

Similarly, the new CEAP 2020 was adopted as an update to CEAP 2015 and as one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal. The workshop highlighted its action goals. These include, for example, a sustainable product policy framework, and key product value chains, as well as creating less waste and more value. The two main outcomes of CEAP 2020 were the adoption of most of the 35 actions proposed and the expansion of the Ecodesign Directive's coverage area and the breadth of its compliance criteria.

Following that, the workshop focused on CE and trade and how investment policies in trade can be used as tools to facilitate the CE transition. It highlighted the different regional trade policies, such as the EU-United Kingdom Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (MEA, Article 400), the EU-Mexico Global Agreement Modernisation (TSD Chapter, Article 13), and broad circular policies such as natural resources and waste management, references to the Basel Convention and specific provisions on food waste (i.e. the United States - Mexico - Canada Agreement (USMCA)).

While speaking of the CE in the context of trade, Apoorva Arya highlighted some key considerations, such as contributing to the economies of scale, extending the concept of a CE to supply chains, and the need for transparency and traceability in such value chains. To help with a better understanding, she introduced three case studies. The first one was a case study on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), which CIL has conducted. It focuses on EPR costs for textiles and electronics that are exported outside of the EU for reuse. The study measures the volume of goods sent outside the EU for reuse, extrapolates future trends, and outlines the anticipated advantages of extending the useful lives of goods.

The second case study was a Benchmarking Study of Circular Economy Roadmap Practices for the Government of Vietnam, which we are also conducting at CIL. The study highlights improved legal and policy frameworks through promoting eco-labelling and eco-label certification and using technical standards and guidelines for products and services relevant to CE.

Finally, the third case study was about the CE and international trade developments in India. This study, which we have been commissioned to conduct, focuses on India’s vision of boosting the country's share in international trade and being a part of global circular value chains (GCVC) by aligning economic, trade, and taxation policy to CE outcomes and leveraging finance capabilities towards public and private investment. As the workshop came to an end, Apoorva Arya offered an overview of the other projects and studies we are conducting at CIL.


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