Isabella Lövin is no longer a government minister, Minister for Environment and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for International Development Cooperation
Sweden transitioning to a circular economy
The Government has adopted a national strategy for a circular economy that sets out the direction and ambition for a long-term and sustainable transition of Swedish society. This is an important step towards Sweden becoming the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation.
We need to accelerate the transition to a circular economy if we are to achieve the environmental and climate objectives, as well as several of the Global Goals in the 2030 Agenda. Using materials more efficiently increases their lifespan and value, and reduces both the extraction of new raw materials and landfill waste.
Over the last few months, the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the resulting economic crisis have had a major impact on society. The world after the COVID-19 pandemic will not be what it was before the crisis.
“It’s madness that valuable material is used just once and then thrown away. We’re going to change this now. The green recovery that society now needs will accelerate the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy. Approximately 50 per cent of our climate emissions and more than 90 per cent of the world’s water shortages and biodiversity losses are a result of inefficient resource management. A circular economy is smarter, much better for the environment and also allows us to create opportunities for many new jobs and sustainable business,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Isabella Lövin.
The core of the strategy is a vision: “A society in which resources are used efficiently in toxin-free circular flows, replacing new materials.” The national work for a circular economy will focus on sustainable production and product design; sustainable ways of consuming and using materials, products and services; toxin-free and circular ecocycles; and the circular economy as a driving force for the business sector and other actors through measures to promote innovation and circular business models.
“As one of the world’s most innovative countries, Sweden has good prospects for managing this transition. This also gives us advantages in the global market and many Swedish companies can already see the opportunities in transitioning their activities. This will create more companies, new jobs and greater welfare, while reducing the environmental impact,” says Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan.
The transition to a circular economy must be conducted jointly by politicians, the business sector, the public sector, academia, private individuals and civil society. The Government’s role is to create the conditions for the good work that is already under way in regions and municipalities, the business sector, universities and other higher education institutions, and civil society. The Government will take a number of measures in this area during this electoral period. In addition to the strategy, action plans containing concrete measures will be adopted.
The strategy is based on an agreement between the Government, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party.
About the strategy for a circular economy
A circular economy is a tool for reducing society’s resource use and the resulting environmental impact. The strategy sets out four focus areas in which measures are necessary.
- A circular economy through sustainable production and product design.
- A circular economy through sustainable ways of consuming and using materials, products and services.
- A circular economy through toxin-free and circular ecocycles.
- A circular economy as a driving force for the business sector and other actors through measures to promote innovation and circular business models.
Each focus area contains a series of more concrete measures to aim for. These include:
- steering towards a situation in which products are designed to have a long lifespan;
- promoting greater use of toxin-free recycled materials in new products;
- strengthening the innovation and business climate so that more circular companies can grow;
- promoting the development of Sweden’s bioeconomy so that bio-based, renewable and sustainably produced raw materials can replace fossil-based raw materials in products and production processes;
- improving consumer information to make it easier for individual consumers to make sustainable and circular choices in their everyday lives;
- making it simple and profitable for business operators and private individuals to share, repair and re-use products;
- contributing to resource efficiency, recycling and circular business models through public procurement;
- designing policy instruments that contribute to greater supply of and demand for circular products and services, and re-used and recycled materials;
- setting the requirement that both recycled and new materials are toxin-free; and
- promoting research, innovation and technological development in the areas of recycling, digitalisation and traceability.
Virgin materials must be replaced as far as possible by resources used efficiently in circular flows. Consideration must be given to the need for virgin materials to enable the climate transition and recycling. The strategy describes what materials will be prioritised in national action on the circular economy. All of these must be better used and taken care of than is the case today: plastic, textiles, renewable and biobased raw materials, foodstuffs, materials in the construction and property sector, and metals and minerals critical to innovation.