From 18 to 20 November, Belgium hosted the Circular Economy Hotspot. In order to deal with climate, environmental and economic challenges, the circular economy has become a key objective for the European Union and Belgium. An economic shift that the Federal State, the regions, cities and Belgian companies absolutely do not want to miss.
On Tuesday 19 November, companies and research centres that design or produce in a circular way opened their doors at the Hotspot. The participants of the Hotspot discovered these projects and achievements in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Mons.
On Wednesday 20 November in Heysel, Brussels, the Hotspot gave the floor to the entrepreneurs who are implementing the circular economy in Belgium. A panel comprised of Tom Dehoux (Founder of HNST Jeans, an SME that recycles denim), Crist’l Joris (CEO of ETAP Lighting, an Antwerp-based company that tracks energy waste) and a representative from the multinational company TOTAL set the tone for the debate. Wim Careel of the Metal workers union, FGTB Metal and Piotr Barczak (European Environmental Bureau) spiced up the discussion with their critical comments.
In order to establish the status at European Level, Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), presented the main recommendations from the Agency's latest report on the circular economy. His speech was accompanied by strong targeting European policy makers: "Europe’s circular economy ambitions and initiatives are promising but they are still in their infancy. It is now time to pick up the pace of change from initial steps to bold leaps that transform our currently unsustainable systems of production and consumption."
A message that was obviously well received in Belgium and to which Marie Christine Marghem, Federal Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development replied that "the implementation of a circular economy model not only protects resources and biodiversity but also reduces CO2 emissions. It is therefore working in the interest of the environment, but also the consumer. It is therefore our duty as politicians to continue working to implement this model in consultation with the different levels of power and the European Commission so that it becomes cross-cutting across the different sectors of our economy."
The description of the company visits, presentations and speeches given during the Hotspot are available on https://circulareconomyhotspotbelgium.be/