On June 16th, ENSIE, in collaboration with the JustGreen project, organised a webinar on “Circular economy in the value chain of social economy organisations – WISEs working towards more responsible consumption”. This webinar was also organised to launch ENSIE 20th anniversary campaign #BuyResponsible.

The webinar started with introductory words from Corine van de Burgt, ENSIE President and Director of De Omslag, and Augusto Lima, Councillor for Economy, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Tourism and Internationalisation at the Municipality of Vila Nova de Familicao, JustGreen project leader.

The first part of the webinar focused the presentation of circular economy and its links with social economy. Andreia Barbosa, Manager at Circular Economy Portugal presented the “Principles and strategies of Circular Economy”. She described the basic principles of circular economy, how it works and called for developing policies that go further than managing waste. She also explained the EU legislation concerning circular economy and what is to be expected in the next years. Pauline Bonino, Communication officer at ENSIE, presented the ENSIE 20th anniversary campaign, #BuyResponsible and insisted on the need to reinforce the links between circular economy and WISEs, especially through EU policies.

The second part of the webinar consisted in two panels. The first one on “How WISEs can encourage responsible consumption”, with Charlie Wigglesworth Deputy Chief Executive at Social Enterprises UK who described the campaign his organisation launched a few years ago: “Buy Social”. The goal of this successful campaign is to showcase the work of social enterprises to consumer and encourage responsible consumption. For this campaign, they collaborate with big companies such as Ebay. He underlined the difficulties his organisation had to find enterprises combining social and circular economy principles, but insisted that they were trying to work in this direction. Finally, he described briefly another Social Enterprises UK wonderful campaign, the “Buy Social Corporate Challenge”, in which they are working with big companies to push them develop procurement reserved to social enterprises.

The second speaker of this panel was Jolien Roedolf, who is in charge of Business development on Social circular entrepreneurship at HERW!N, Flemish member of ENSIE. She explained how circular economy, on top of social entrepreneurship, became important for HERW!N and how they are currently working to raise awareness on this issue with their members. Indeed, HERW!N realised the need to develop a true pedagogical strategy to explain the interest of working towards more circularity for WISEs. She also claimed on the need to find some synergies with other initiatives, such as funding opportunities in order to benefit from cross-publicity.

The second panel focused on “How to develop WISEs and Social Economy at the local level, the example of socially responsible public procurement”. It started with a presentation made by Estève Ferrer, from FEICAT, Catalan member of ENSIE. He presented the data concerning WISEs in Catalonia and underlined the fact that a large part of their income is coming from public procurement, which are big opportunities for those enterprises. Indeed, since the 2014 EU Public Procurement Directive, the Spanish government developed the possibility to reserve contracts for WISEs. Every year, the regional authority of Catalonia determine how much money they will use in reserved contracts and promote it. FEICAT is involved in this process; they organised several regional training sessions and developed a website with good practices.

The second speaker was Jana Zurkova, Network Development & Innovation Manager at RREUSE, who made a presentation on “Creating an inclusive circular economy in your territory through re-use and repair”. She underlined the importance of the future Social Economy Action Plan and its links with the Circular Economy Action Plan. She explained the importance to put second hand first to create local jobs. Finally, she demonstrated the importance of public procurement and regretted the fact that 55% of public procurement procedures are still using the lowest price as the only award criterion.

The last word of the event was to Corine van de Brugt who summed up the webinar and underlined that social and circular economy should advance hands in hands to develop new forms of economy.

Overall, this webinar showcased the importance of developing more synergies between the social economy in general and WISEs in particular, and circular economy. There are already numerous social economy organisations working in circular economy, but more can be done on this topic and, most importantly, this work should be acknowledged, especially in EU legislations.

Join us on September 21st for another #BuyResponsible event!

If you want to watch the webinar, you can do it here.

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