The Panel
Foto: Photographer: Robert Losavio

The panel discussion

Towards the circular economy – opportunities and barriers

NEWS Published

CIRCULAR ECONOMY In December 2015 the European Commission launched the Circular Economy package. The ambitious package aims at stimulating Europe's transition towards a circular economy, boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs. But will this vision be successful and what will it take to achieve the ambitions? In order to discuss this topic, the Swedish Society for Business and Politics, SPN, organised a seminar in Brussels, in the premises of the permanent representation of Sweden.

Ambassador Åsa Webber welcomed participants to the Permanent Representation of Sweden and outlined the Swedish position on the package.

"We are happy to see this on the table and in general terms Sweden is supportive of the broader approach towards competitiveness, job creation, environment and climate change proposed. We are particularly interested in aspects such as better regulation, innovation and concrete implementing measures", she said

Grzegorz Radziejewski, from the European Commission, described the package, which includes more than 50 detailed proposals to be rolled out the coming next years.

"The package with its holistic and collaborative approach, to embrace both economic and environmental aspects, represents a new method in the global economy. We will move away from the old-fashioned, one-sided way of doing environmental policy, including a too narrow focus on targets, and instead look at tools and incentives in a global way. Also, without the economic “layer” the environmental ambitions will not fly as much as we want. For business there are cost savings to the amount of 600 billion euros per year if we can do this right and for the society as a whole we can achieve more wealth, more jobs and better environment and living conditions for all citizens. It could be a win-win-win situation", he said.

He added that the most controversial parts of the package so far have been the parts on product design and the creation of a secondary raw material market.

Pernilla Halldin, described how H&M as a global retail-clothing company with 4.000 stores in 61 countries, is already engaging in more circular business models.

"We are on our way to creating a “closed loop system”, where old garments are turned into new fashion. Our textiles are made of cotton or polyester – raw materials derived indirectly from land and oil, which are both finite resources. We have therefore launched a global initiative and given our consumers the opportunity to hand in unwanted garments, and receive a voucher in return valid in our stores. During 2014, we collected more than 7,600 tons of garments that were no longer wanted. That equals 38 million T-shirts. This way we save 56% of waste and 58% of energy."

"But barriers exist. There are questions in some member states about ownership and who has the right to collect textiles for recycling. Different regulations on waste and resources is another obstacle, and also, since we are a global retail company with our important suppliers in Asia, we need to make them able to buy the unwanted garments from other parts of the world. Overall, we want to see support for voluntary initiatives and rules, which are incentive-based", she concluded.

Daniel Badman, from Billerudkornäs, the Swedish provider of renewable packaging material, said that the paper industry has alredy been practicing circular business models for a long time.

"Material-efficiency makes business sense. Our resources come from well-managed forests. Our paper and packaging materials are based on a renewable resource that can be recycled in other packaging and paper products. We have a lot of biomass resources in Sweden and the rest of northern Europe. Trees are a fantastic resource. Everything that can be done with oil can be done with trees. Every piece of the tree can be used, whether it’s about products such as packaging or furniture or other parts for energy purposes. We support a holistic, enabling and collaborative approach which looks at the whole circle of the economy", concluded Badman

Heidi Hautala, Finnish MEP from the Greens, started with what she saw as a good example of committed business: the Finnish textile manufacturer Finlayson, which collected used bedsheets in order to make rag rugs. Towards the commission package, however, she took a more conventional approach.

"I think it represents a good first step. We will leave behind a piecemeal approach and look at all aspects in the circle and give a new role to governments, businesses and NGO:s, but we must not forget to keep the pressure up. Incentives alone do not always work. We need to set targets, for instance on material-efficiency or to issue guidelines and a voluntary code of conduct for responsible business. I look forward to working with the Dutch presidency on this issue", she said.

Jens Hedström head of the Brussels office of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise moderated the seminar. It was held in the Permanent Representation of Sweden in Brussels and gathered around 60 participants from European institutions, business organisations, trade unions, NGO’s and other stakeholders.


NEWS Published:

Questions vital for the future of the industry

SEMINAR The Swedish Construction Federation and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani (RE) have organised a seminar "Building Europe - Future of work the construction” in the European Parliament.
NEWS Published:

Anna Stellinger: Director of International and EU Affairs at Confederation of Swedish Enterprise

NEW LINE OF WORK Anna Stellinger today takes up the newly created position of Director of International and EU Affairs at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. She will also join the management team.
NEWS Published:

Review the Swedish Exemption Regarding Financial Transactions

TAX The VAT exemption regarding financial transactions is often used in Sweden as an argument to raise taxes in the financial sector. However, the exemption is harming the business climate as well as growth and development.
NEWS Published:

EU lose much of its attraction without the single market

EU A fully developed single market is central to fight climate change, promote sustainable development, to fully harness the potential of digitalisation and strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. Without the single market, the EU would lose much of its attraction.
NEWS Published:

Proposals for competitiveness

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, in co-operation with its experts and membership organizations, has produced concrete proposals for measures to ensure that Europe will maintain its competitiveness in the global arena.
NEWS Published:

How EU-decisions affect Swedish companies

REPORT The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has evaluated how the major decisions taken within the EU during the last mandate period affect Swedish companies. Our evaluation shows that 24 of the 57 legal acts we have chosen to look at have been positive for Swedish companies.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

EU 24 million small and mid-sized businesses are the greatest asset within EU. "Regulations must be dealt with to give SME-companies the opportunity to reach their full potential", says  Anna-Lena Bohm, chairman of BusinessEuropes SME:s and Entrepreneurship committee.
NEWS Published:

SME-companies in the digital economy

BUSINESS There are 24 million small and mid-sized businesses, so called SME businesses, in Europe. These companies are a great – if not the greatest – asset when it comes to tackling todays economical and social challenges.
NEWS Published:

The Nordic countries need to block EU assault on tax veto

TAX For countries with a common currency and a limited common budget, it is particularly important to be able to pursue an active national fiscal policy when an external shock is encountered, writes Claes Hammarstedt.
NEWS Published:

Artificial intelligence on everybody’s mind

EVENT Artificial intelligence is on everybody’s mind in the EU capital. The European Commission recently launched its strategy for artificial intelligence, which focuses on promoting research and development of AI across European sectors.
NEWS Published:

AI made in EU

JOINT EFFORT The EU-commission has presented a joint effort with Member States to promote the development and use of artificial intelligence, AI, in Europe. To strengthen AI-technology and uptake in Europe is welcome. Swedish Enterprise believes that the conditions within Europe must be strengthened in order to successfully improve the global competitiveness of our companies. Here are our thoughts and proposals.
NEWS Published:

Swedish expert represents European industry in expert group on AI

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s digital expert Carolina Brånby is representing BusinessEurope in the European Commission High Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence, AI HLEG. Their role is drafting ethical guidelines, and to create recommendations on how to strengthen the uptake of AI within the EU.
NEWS Published:

What impact of the Social Pillar on EU prosperity?

The EU’s approach to social policy is currently changing. In November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights (the Social Pillar) was proclaimed as a visionary document setting up goals for an upward convergence in this area. In this year’s State of Union address, the president of the EU-commission Jean-Claude Juncker asserted that “It is time we turned the good intentions that we proclaimed at the Gothenburg Social Summit into law”. And, as a matter of fact, this process is well under way.
NEWS Published:

The entrepreneurial perspective is being neglected in the EU digitalisation process

The digital single market is a hot topic in the EU right now. Sweden has plenty of confidence when it comes to digitalisation, which does by its nature transcends all borders. The government’s overall goal is for Sweden to be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitalisation. But unfortunately the entrepreneurial perspective usually comes second when the European countries attempts to create a digital inner market.
NEWS Published:

American tariffs hurt Swedish and European industry

"President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports is very unfortunate. It will hurt Swedish industry both directly and indirectly", says Carola Lemne, Director General of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.
NEWS Published:

The EU-commission wants to go big on AI

AI  The US and China are way ahead of Europe regarding development of autonomous computer systems. That disadvantage must change if European business and industry is to retain its competitive edge into the future, writes Olof Erixon, Senior legal counsel.
NEWS Published:

EU – the clearest voice for free trade

In the beginning of May, the Free Market Road Show (FMRS) took place in Stockholm. Jens Hedström, Head of Brussels Office, International Director, Swedish Enterprise, was one of the panellists together with PJ Anders Linder, CEO Axess Foundation, the British economist Richard Teather among others.
NEWS Published:

Sweden should oppose the digital tax proposals

TAXES The Swedish Government should oppose the controversial digital tax proposals from the EU Commission and work with the OECD to find an internationally acceptable solution.
NEWS Published:

Controversial EU tax proposal on digital services causes concern for small exporting economies

TAX The Director Generals for the Swedish, Danish and Finnish business federations have, in a joint letter addressed to the Finance Ministers of their respective countries, expressed their concern for the EU Commissions digital tax plan.
NEWS Published:

Protectionism only produces losers

The impact of globalisation has been positive for most of the world’s population. However, the economic integration of economies also accelerates change which puts increasing pressure on societies to be able to adapt to such change. We need to stand up for the clear advantages of globalisation, while making sure our societies have the flexibility necessary to adapt to rapid changes in technology and labor markets. These were the main conclusion at a seminar about free trade and globalization in times of protectionism, organized by The Society for Business and Politics in the European Parliament.