Circular economy study identifies 3 million jobs across Europe

WRAP’s latest study shows expansion of the circular economy could create 3 million extra jobs and reduce unemployment by 520,000 across EU member states by 2030.

‘Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies’ builds on the report published earlier this year, ‘Employment and the Circular Economy – Job creation in a more resource efficient Britain’ to show the picture across the EU.

The study is the first that details the employment potential for each Member State, the industries that would support it, and the skills that would be required.

The circular economy workforce already spans across Europe, but this study illustrates the jobs potential for individual Member States.

Currently, it’s estimated that there are 3.4 million people employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste & recycling and rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. Expansion in circular economy potentially offers employment opportunities in all Member States (large and small) and jobs that match the skills that are under supplied in the market.

Several scenarios illustrated are considered in this paper, showing that:
On the current development path, by 2030 expansion in circular economy in Europe could:
• create an extra 1.2 million jobs; and
• reduce structural unemployment by around 250,000

However, a transformational expansion in circular economy in Europe, by 2030 has the potential to:
• create an extra 3 million jobs; and
• reduce structural unemployment by around 520,000

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovering and reusing products and materials.

Examples of circular business models include designing goods to last longer, which can lead to greater reuse; greater repairability which can support the growing remanufacturing industry; and allowing for easy recovery of materials when a product is eventually recycled. Service models, which could include product maintenance and take back schemes as well as rental and peer-to-peer sharing models, also hold much potential.


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