Study: Circular economy could cut unemployment in Italy, Poland & Germany

Cover of report (Source: Green Alliance)

London, UK – A new EU package of policy measures to develop the circular economy across Europe is released today. Think tank Green Alliance has analysed its potential impact on the jobs market focusing on three of Europe’s major manufacturing economies: Italy, Poland and Germany. It has found that, if ambitious, the measures could cut unemployment and save €3 billion a year. In these three economies alone, development of the circular economy at scale would help to tackle difficult regional and occupational unemployment issues and bring 270,000 people back into work.

The analysis identifies where new jobs, provided by stepping up resource efficient activities, would address local labour market barriers and reduce unemployment in Italy, Poland and Germany. It finds that:

  • in Italy, where there is huge potential to develop the bioeconomy – around food and biotechnology – two thirds of new circular economy jobs could be created in southern and island regions, helping to reduce geographical inequality.
  • in Poland, the potential is in remanufacturing industries, where jobs are likely to be long term. Poland currently has twice the EU average proportion of workers on so-called ‘junk’ or temporary contracts, making high quality, long term jobs particularly attractive.
  • in Germany, despite having the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, there are also opportunities to tackle ingrained employment inequalities between west and east. By focusing on developing services which allow consumers to use manufactured goods without owning them, jobs can be provided in eastern German cities where unemployment is comparatively high.

Dustin Benton, head of energy and resources at Green Alliance, commented: “Our analysis shows that, by being much more ambitious in developing the reuse, remanufacturing and recycling industries, significant social as well as environmental dividends can be gained. And these benefits can apply to countries across Europe with very different geographies, economies and labour market challenges. We hope that the EU measures presented tomorrow will require better product design, reward manufacturers which create products that are remanufactured and recycled, and reform markets for secondary materials.”

Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers, Senior Fellow at the German think tank Öko-Institute, argued: “There is a very promising potential for multiple benefits of fostering the circular economy. Thinking beyond traditional waste management job opportunities, health and environmental benefits, strengthening the role of waste prevention, re-use and remanufacturing of products, or parts thereof, will open up new, innovative business opportunities. It also has the potential to motivate employees to engage and thus to improve job satisfaction. Therefore, we hope that the revised circular economy package will be ambitious enough to bolster these potentials.”

The paper on „Unemployment and the circular economy in Europe. A study of opportunities in Italy, Poland and Germany“ can be found under The report marks the launch of the Alliance for Circular Economy Solutions (ACES), a new partnership with a group of influential business and European organisations.

Source: The Green Alliance Trust