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Pilot project: Boosting the circular economy among SMEs

Between June 2017 and February 2019, DG Environment has implemented a pilot project with the objective to explore what route is most effective and efficient to boost the transition towards a circular economy among SMEs.

Since adopting the Circular Economy Package, the European Commission has observed an increased uptake by corporations to adopt resource efficiency, eco-innovation and/or circular economy strategies and practices. However, it as also noted that SMEs experiencing more difficulties in adopting such strategies and practices, due to their more limited organisational, technological and financial capacity, and less access to (pre-) financing for circular solutions.

The hurdles faced by SMEs to adopt circular economy practices significantly limit the speed at which the European economy can transition towards a circular economy, since SMEs: (a) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU, (b) account for 85% of new jobs created over the last years and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU (Eurostat, 2018).
With this project DG Environment aimed to pilot which route to bring assets (e.g. knowledge, networks and tools) to SMEs to address these hurdles is most effective and efficient.

The project has delivered the following support activities:

  • training 28 SME support organisations on how to set-up and/or expand their support programmes on the subject of circular economy (Task 1);
  • helping 13 highly promising Green Solution Providers (GSPs) to scale-up across Europe (Task 2),
  • and advising 5 regional authorities on how they can boost the transition towards a circular economy (Task 3).

Via these activities the European Commission may already reach up to over: 800.000 SMEs.
Following these various Tasks, a two-day closing event was held in Brussels to: (1) directly help more SMEs and (2) to bring these assets to more SME support organisations and Regional authorities who in turn can help more SMEs.

For this project KPMG, MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands) and Circle Economy have supported the Commission as implementation partners.
Relevant documents related to this project:
Accelerating towards a circular economy - Final report for European Commission project: Boosting circular economy among SMEs in Europe, February 2019

Boosting the transition - Impact assessment, for project: Boosting the circular economy among SMEs, February 2019

Bringing stakeholders together - Conference summary, December 2018

Let’s help SMEs to go circular, Training material developed for the project Boosting the circular economy amongst SMEs in Europe EN ES IT