The Four Motors for Europe are committed to the circular economy

In the framework of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region's presidency of the Four Motors for Europe, economic actors - competitiveness centers, clusters, companies - and representatives of the four Regions met in Belgium on 23-24 November 2022. This mission is a follow-up of the “reshoring and attractiveness” conference organized on March 10th in Lyon.

The head of auvergnes-rhone-alpes delegation and Emmanuelle Maire are presenting the conference in front of an audience

Networking event in Brussels

The mission started with a networking event in Brussels, organized as part of the “Rendez-vous Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in Brussels”, by the Delegation of the Region in Brussels and the regional development agency, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Entreprises. 

Emmanuelle Maire, Head of unit from the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission, provided an overview of the major initiatives launched by the European Commission as part of the first circular economy action plan of March 2022, such as the initiative to make sustainable products the norm in the EU; the directive on eco-design of sustainable products; and the new strategy to make textiles more sustainable, repairable, reusable and recyclable. The content of the second circular economy package, that has been published on 30, November, was also presented by Emmanuelle Maire. It is composed, among others of a policy framework on biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics and a proposal for a revision of EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste.

The economic actors from the Four Motors and their associated members - Flanders and Wales - were then able to share their good practices and provide concrete examples of projects and economic actors in the sectors of green chemistry, advanced materials and plastics recycling.

Sergio Riva, President of the Lombardy Green Chemical Cluster, highlighted the importance that the bioeconomy sector plays in Lombardy and presented the Lombardy Green Chemical Cluster, the regional role in the ECRN network, some strategic regional tenders as the incoming "Ricerca e Innova 2023", and some successful examples from Lombardy that have involved both public and private entities and banking foundations, such as Vipcat, STmicroelectronics, VEGEA, SUSCHEM and the “Stairway20/22” and “Circle” projects realized by Cariplo Foundation.

Mireia Andreu, Innovation Manager for the Catalan Packaging Cluster, focused on the major research and development projects ongoing for her cluster. These include Iflex, a new pioneering tetra brick reprint service; Layertech, improvement of the recovery of multilayer plastics for the food industry; Pactex industrial symbiosis project between the textile and the packaging sector, as well as Foodwase for Foodpack, recovery of waste from fruit and vegetable processing for use in food packaging.

Ines Bisinger, representative of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics, Labor and Tourism, emphasized that the circular economy is a priority for the Land. Such a priority has been proved by the creation of the think tank Industrielle Ressourcen-Strategien in 2018, located at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and financed by politics and industry, to address the challenges of the resource economy and support German companies with information and data on the basis of which companies can make fact-based decisions.

Finally, Stacy Jones, Technical Appraisal Manager at Welsh Government, presented key innovative case studies of R&D projects and expertise in Wales and highlighted the “Net Zero Wales” plan to reach Net Zero by 2050 and the circular economy strategy "Beyond Recycling", which promotes resource reuse, recycling and re-circulation with the objective to reach zero waste by 2050.

Site visits and networking in Flanders

On the 23rd afternoon, the regional delegations then travelled to Ghent in Flanders, for the visit of “Bio Base Europe pilot plant” which is an innovative facility specialized in the conversion of renewable raw materials into bioproducts. On November 24th, the participants were received at BlueChem, the first incubator for sustainable chemistry in Belgium, for a visit of the facility and its members, followed by a presentation of the Catalisti cluster, dedicated to the sectors of chemistry and plastics.  

The mission was a worthwhile opportunity for the participants from the different regions, clusters, companies and operational representatives to get to know each other and to exchange good practices, n as well as to think of potential future collaborations.

A virtual matchmaking event on 16-17 January will allow participants to continue the exchanges, and to meet other structures, in particular companies from the regions  that have not been able to travel to Flanders. The online platform is already open for registration

The mission was organized with the support of Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the European network for the support of companies in their internationalization. The matchmaking event on January will also be supported by EEN and will be put together in collaboration with the EEN correspondents of each region concerned.