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Circular economy 'could create three million jobs'

Up to three million jobs could be created across the European Union over the next 15 years through the expansion of the circular economy (CE), WRAP has concluded.

Its study, ‘Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies’, is the first to detail the employment potential for each member state in the EU, the industries that support it and the skills required.

The report estimates that there are currently 3.4 million people employed in CE jobs across Europe. including repair, recycling and rental and leasing.

It concludes that an extra 1.2 million jobs could be added by member states on the current path, which could rise to three million if the CE programme is expanded. The expansion could also reduce structural unemployment by over half a million by 2030.

A key aim of the circular economy is to promote longer lasting designs for everyday items, promote greater reuse, greater reparability and more sustainable business models which can support a remanufacturing sector.

An earlier study earlier this year from WRAP and the environmental think tank Green Alliance found that the UK could add up to 52,000 jobs by 2030 by increasing resource efficiency.

Liz Goodwin WRAP

WRAP chief executive, Liz Goodwin (right) said: “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 EU 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 Commission’s revised package is expected to be released this year after the original package, which included recycling targets of 70% for municipal waste and 80% for packaging by 2030, was dropped last December.

A public consultation specifically focused on waste markets, feeding into the revised CE proposals, closed on 4 September.

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