Circular Economy (CE) is starting to be a firmly established and well embraced concept among Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Ukraine. At its core, CE is all about extending the lifespan of resources and products (for as long as possible), and reintroducing them in the production cycles. This way, everything is either reused, re-manufactured, recycled back into a raw material or, as a last resort, used as a source of energy. In Ukraine, CE is a concept which started to be established in correlation with resource efficiency.
This year’s National Conference, amid still hosted online, gathered over 170 participants from various sectors of activity (industry and private sector, Government agencies, national and international organizations, academia and civil society) who joined to learn more about the role, actions, and green paths that national industries can take towards sustainable development. The virtual event took place on 15 December 2021 and carried the title “Circular Economy for Business Development within the EU-funded EU4Environment Action”.
It encompassed several highlights, including the presence of officials (the European Union Delegation to Ukraine, the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, etc.), the launch of a Circular Economy promotional video (developed by the RECP Centre), presentation of business cases and success stories from Ukrainian companies that have implemented resource efficient options, and last but not least, engaging panels discussions on production approaches within CE, a lean production training course, and industrial waste management in Ukraine.
“The importance of this Conference is that it talks about a new area of growth and of doing business. Within the key pillar of the European Green Deal, the economy of the future (economy of 2030-2050) will be a decarbonized and pollution free one. This means that there is going to be at least one big market neighboring Ukraine (the EU) that will require that products meet certain standards – to be revolving over time, and to have included sustainability criteria (recycled and reused materials, certification of the source of origin). This is a big opportunity for Ukraine in several sectors” said Mr. Gregory Tsouris, Counsellor, Green Deal, the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine
The thereafter presentations also focused on the current progress of several Ukrainian SMEs in their transition to green economy, as well as on the description of benefits and new opportunities to embrace waste management. The keynote speakers then delved into the I-GO tool for RECP self-assessment, the concept of sustainable public procurement in Ukraine, financial mechanisms for implementing RECP options, waste management, industrial waste mapping, and open data on waste and Circular Economy.
“The topic of Circular Economy is so relevant and interesting to many parties. On behalf of the Ministry of Economy, I would like to mention that Ukraine is aware of all the advantages of implementing the Circular Economy principles in Ukraine and understands the positive impact that Circular Economy will have on the environment and on the well-being of the population. The Ministry is currently in negotiations with the EU Delegation and UNIDO in our common efforts to implement Circular Economy in the country. Ukraine understands the necessity of this action, though there is still so much to do” said Ms. Viktoria Kovalenko, State Expert on Smart Specialization and Resource Efficiency, Directorate for Pricing Policy and Development of the Real Sector of Economy, Ministry of Economy of Ukraine.
In between the panel discussions, the participants took advantage of the format of the event and learned more about the current project on Lean Production in furniture manufacturing, which is being carried out by the RECP Centre. Overall, the National Conference, which is organized every year by the RECP Centre in Ukraine, contributed to a better understanding of CE and the available options for its application in in the country (clarifying that Ukraine is still in the very first steps towards this long-term direction).
This morning (15 December 2021) we are having a follow-up on all the activities which UNIDO is supporting under the EU4Environment Action. It is a great pleasure for me to admit that Ukraine has been a frontrunner for UNIDO’s experience in this region on implementing Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP). We are grateful for the EU supporting regional programmes, national interventions, and financial initiatives, and we confirm that we have all the methodological approaches that UNIDO, as an industrial organization of the UN family, is promoting under its mandate on Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID). For us, the sustainable goals (SDGs) and particularly SDG 9, are at the core of our activities. The thematic area of CE, which we see as an industrial economy, is driven by the economic sense of making products and materials last for as long as possible. Our mandate focuses on supporting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of any economy. 90% of enterprises are in this category in Ukraine. Returning products and parts in the value chains several times, and introducing principles where products are designed to last and maintain their value, are all at the core of our work. Also, we cannot avoid speaking about waste, waste hierarchy, and how to prevent it. Hence, we are promoting the need to have products designed to last, so waste is not generated (here, sustainable consumption is also part of the product design). We also promote the use of renewable energy and minimization of waste and pollution. The work with industries (in Ukraine and in the region) shows, by bringing forth business cases, that industries are not the villain, but rather an opportunity giver (as an employed, job generator, and frontrunner for competitiveness and productivity). This is why we want to bring forth the business cases on CE and sustainable production for growth. We have several approaches (including individual work with SMEs and with groups of SMEs). At a regional level, we have waste maps, where we face issues with the lack data and openness. The issue of market availability is also important because it drives the needs for change in the overall production (especially in export production which drives the internal, local market). Here, we plan to launch activities on Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) – this is an alternative for industrial production to approach the EU Single Market for Green Products. We encourage, thus, industries to consider joining this opportunity as well, said Ms. Tatiana Chernyavskaya, EU4Environment Project Manager, UNIDO.