A circular economy: an analysis of the businesses awareness level in the Baltic Sea Region countries

Olga Sergienko, Anastasia Pavlova, Violetta Savoskula, Meeri Karvinen, Jaana Sorvari, Vaira Obuka, Maris Klavins, Karl Hillman, Sakari Autio

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Abstract

Circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended. Unlike the traditional linear economic model based on a ‘take-make-consume-throw away’ pattern, a circular economy is based on the notion that all wastes can be considered as valuable resources in an almost closed loop, where products and the materials they contain are highly valued. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. Examination of the current knowledge and performance on resource efficiency and circular economy of
industrial enterprises in companies in the Baltic Sea Region–in Finland, Sweden, Latvia and St. Petersburg Region, Russia – was in focus in the two parallel twinning international projects «ERREC 2.0» (Environmental Responsibility
and Resource Efficiency) and «LARELICE-P» (Preparing Learning about Resource Efficiency Leading into Circular Economy), realized in 2017–2018. The projects received funding from the Intereg Baltic Sea Region program of the
European Union and the Swedish Institute, respectively. Project partners included five universities: Aalto University (Finland), Lahti University of Applied Sciences (Finland), University of Gävle (Sweden), University of Latvia, Riga
and ITMO University (Russia). The main overall objective of the projects was to increase the level of education among young and elderly people to guarantee skilled work force with a relevant level of awareness in the area of resource
efficiency leading to a circular economy. The specific objectives of the projects included there cognition of new technologies, innovations and joint activity models to support skills development in circular economy and resource
efficiency in participating regions between companies and higher education institutions (HEIs).Cooperation with businesses will provide the HEIs in the Baltic Sea Region with resource efficiency related research topics corresponding to their industry. In the future projects, these topics will be worked on using different methods to bring together students, companies and university staff to investigate companies’ activities and possibilities to make them more resource and environmentally efficient and also economically more competitive. To evaluate the current knowledge and performance on resource efficiency and circular economy, a survey was distributed to51companies in the project partner countries. In addition, the survey aimed to find out the companies’ experiences and willingness to engage in university-industry collaboration. In the survey, about 78% of the respondents chose sustainability in general (including concepts such as social/environmental/economic sustainability, corporate social responsibility, fair trade etc.) as the most important concepts leading to circular economy. These were followed by the resource efficiency concept: (waste minimization, energy efficiency, material efficiency etc.) with 76% of the responses. The results will promote the sharing of knowledge between universities and companies, offer valuable information on the competences
needed in working life, and may lead to new cooperation between Baltic, Nordic and Russian companies and universities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages19
JournalScientific journal NRU ITMO
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • circular economy
  • resource efficiency
  • energy efficiency
  • life cycle
  • waste
  • company
  • university
  • cooperation
  • survey

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