Circular economy study identifies 3 million extra jobs across Europe

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Source: Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

Banbury, UK – The expansion of the circular economy could create 3 million extra jobs and reduce unemployment by 520,000 across EU member states by 2030, WRAP’s latest study shows. As ‘Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies’ builds on the report published earlier this year, ‘Employment and the Circular Economy – Job creation in a more resource efficient Britain’ offers the picture across the EU.

The study is the first that details the employment potential for each Member State, the industries that would support it, and the skills that would be required. The circular economy workforce already spans across Europe, but this study illustrates the jobs potential for individual Member States.

Currently 3.4 million people employed

Currently, it’s estimated that there are 3.4 million people employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste & recycling and rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. Expansion in circular economy potentially offers employment opportunities in all Member States (large and small) and jobs that match the skills that are under supplied in the market.

Several scenarios illustrated are considered in this paper, showing that – on the current development path- by 2030 expansion in circular economy in Europe could:

  • create an extra 1.2 million jobs; and
  • reduce structural unemployment by around 250,000

However, a transformational expansion in circular economy in Europe, by 2030 has the potential to:

  • create an extra 3 million jobs; and
  • reduce structural unemployment by around 520,000.

Extra 205,000 job in Britain

The study too finds that if Britain stays on the current development path for the circular economy, then by 2030 the sector could:

  • require an extra 205,000 jobs;
  • reduce unemployment by around 54,000; and
  • offset 11 per cent of future losses in skilled employment.

Alternatively, under a transformational scenario where there was a more extensive expansion of circular economy activities, by 2030 the sector could create over half a million jobs, reduce unemployment by over 100,000 and potentially offset around 18 per cent of the expected future losses in skilled employment.

Adoption of an ‘ambitious’ circular economy package even more needed

According to WRAP, a circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovering and reusing products and materials. Examples of circular business models include designing goods to last longer, which can lead to greater reuse; greater repairability which can support the growing remanufacturing industry; and allowing for easy recovery of materials when a product is eventually recycled. Service models, which could include product maintenance and take back schemes as well as rental and peer-to-peer sharing models, also hold much potential.

Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP commented: “Providing the bigger picture for the jobs potential from the circular economy for each individual Member State makes the case for the EU to adopt an ‘ambitious’ circular economy package even stronger. This added layer of detail is the missing piece of the jigsaw that shows how the circular economy supports the themes of the Commission’s wider plan for job creation and growth. It’s clear that many countries could see considerable benefits which could improve the jobs market, the economy, as well as the environment.”

The summary of ‘Employment and the Circular Economy – Job creation in a more resource efficient Britain’ can be found under wrap.org.uk

Source: Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP)