On 14 April, a seminar on “Innovation in the Circular Economy”, organised by the Ecoembes Centre for the Environment, was held at the Montes Higher Technical School of Engineering at Madrid’s Polytechnic University.

The Role of Innovation in the Circular Economy

The first part of the seminar dealt with the management and processing of waste as part of the circular economy.
Teresa Barres, from the waste department at the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, explained that “although waste innovation is not a direct responsibility of the ministry, it is an integral part of all its programmes and activities.”
Álvaro Molina, from the innovation department at Ecoembes, highlighted the need for open and participative innovation, while Eduardo Fernández, Director of RDI at Urbaser, argued that “the competitive nature of the waste sector means there are many opportunities for innovation.”
Standards compliance was covered by José Magro, Environmental Manager at the Spanish Association for Standardisation and Certification (AENOR), who explained how certification helps build trust with users.

The future of innovation

The second part of the seminar looked at the implementation of new technologies in the traditional waste collection workflow, using smart containers and aspects such as innovative public procurement, which are set to become an increasingly important driving force of development in the Circular Economy.
Jorge Gutiérrez, Sales Director and member of CONTENUR’s Innovation Committee, explained how “in our line of work, innovation guarantees the company’s survival,” pointing out that going forward “we aim to develop a container that is better integrated into smart cities and able to capture and transmit information as part of open systems to deliver more and better recycling.” Gutiérrez also highlighted CONTENUR’s efforts to develop innovative solutions that encourage and raise awareness of the importance of recycling among consumers.

Other participants included Per Kronholm, Chief Financial Officer at Plastic Energy, Lorenzo Chacón, Project Manager at the Andalusian Institute of Technology and Technical Secretary of the Environmental Technology Platform (PLANET), and Arantxa Ramos, Operations Manager of the Technical Secretariat of the Spanish Association for Promoters of the Welfare and Solidarity Economy (AERESS).

The seminar was closed by Anabel Rodríguez, Director of the Circular Economy Foundation, who reminded delegates that “the circular economy is about more than just waste separation and recycling: we must remember that 10% of the world’s population uses 80% of its resources.” She also highlighted the innovative Multi R concept: “rethink, redesign, repair, remanufacture, redistribute, reduce, reuse, recycle and recover energy”.