Resource Use

Eunomia to lead projects on Czech deposit scheme and EU product circularity

The work portfolio of environmental consultancy firm Eunomia Research and Consulting continues to expand, with a commission from the Czech Institut Cirkulární Ekonomiky (INCIEN) and beverage company Mattoni to design a deposit return scheme (DRS) for disposable beverage containers in the Czech Republic and a new project to assess the circular economy potential of products in the EU market.

So far, 2018 has been a year of growth for Eunomia, expanding its resource efficiency team with five new appointments across its Bristol, London and Glasgow offices, and receiving a commission from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Nordic Council of Ministers Waste Group (NWG) to review the waste management policies of the Nordic nations.

Eunomia to lead projects on Czech deposit scheme and EU product circularity

To this can now be added Eunomia’s new work with the INCIEN and the EU. The focus of the Czech project is to increase the nation’s PET beverage container recycling rate to 90 per cent from 54 per cent. Currently, some 12 million single-use plastic beverage containers are bought in the Czech Republic each year.

The project was commissioned by INCIEN and Mattoni, the largest producer of mineral and spring water in the Czech Republic, to understand how a DRS can best be used to boost recycling rates and enable increased bottle-to-bottle closed-loop recycling.

A DRS sees consumers pay an additional charge on a drinks container, which is then redeemed upon the return of the bottle to a designated location, such as a ‘reverse vending machine’. This type of scheme is popular in European countries like Germany and Norway and will soon be coming to England, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirming the introduction of a DRS for beverage containers, subject to the results of a consultation.

Eunomia has been involved in plans for a DRS in Scotland, conducting a feasibility study before Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Scotland would be introducing a DRS last September.

In the Czech case, Eunomia’s team of experts will review best practice across systems in other countries to identify the most effective design options for the Czech Republic. The project will also model the financial costs of two different systems: one that includes only PET drinks bottles, and another where the DRS includes both PET and aluminium drinks cans. The financial modelling will provide an indication of the likely costs to beverage producers, and how these can be minimised, which is a key step in the process of implementing the scheme. The final report will be presented to INCIEN and Mattoni in autumn 2018.

Commenting on the news, Project Director Dr Chris Sherrington said: “It’s really encouraging that Mattoni, as a prominent beverage company, is taking a lead in exploring how an efficient deposit system could be implemented in the Czech Republic. Our research shows that a DRS, if properly designed, is the most effective way to improve beverage container recycling rates, reduce the extent to which they are littered and provide high quality secondary material to enable producers to meet their recycled content commitments. Mattoni has a very positive partnership with INCIEN and we are pleased to be working with them both, using our wealth of experience to design a DRS that will contribute towards the Czech Republic meeting the new recycling targets in the EU’s Circular Economy Package.”

Assessing circular economy potential of EU products

Meanwhile, Eunomia is also set to lead a consortium of six European consultancies in a major new study into how EU policy can increase the circular economy potential of a range of product groups.

Appointed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment, Eunomia will work with Ecofys, Milieu, COWI, Adelphi and Fraunhofer ISI to examine what policy changes would stimulate circular economy growth in product groups identified as having high untapped circular potential. The product groups include: energy related products, construction products, chemicals, textiles, furniture, transport/automotive products and toys.

Eunomia will lead the consortium through a number of tasks that will inform a final report offering policy recommendations. This involves a comprehensive literature review, aimed at estimating the circularity potential for each group as well as identifying case studies on national initiatives to improve product circularity; an analysis of current EU legislation and policy tools; and a 12-week public consultation, alongside a conference and seven stakeholder workshops. This will lead to identification of potential policy actions to improve the overall circular economy contribution of the EU Product Policy Framework.

Eunomia Project Director Mark Hilton said: “By having won this work, we are not only able to shape future EU product policy to drive greater circularity in the economy, but also gain insight into how forthcoming policy changes may affect businesses and influence their priorities. This allows us to provide more insightful guidance for key decision makers in the public and private sectors.”

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