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Fabienne Collard (CRISP) : « A change of mentality will be facilitated by sharing good practices »

Are the principles of the circular economy applicable to HRM? How can they be applied? And with what added value? This is what the Circular HRM project, led by the think & do tank Pour la Solidarité and involving HR Square and other partners, is exploring. In parallel to this journey, we will be providing you with a series of insights to better understand what a circular economy is (or is not). Fourth step: an inventory of its implementation in Belgium with the CRISP, which devotes one of its Courrier hebdomadaire to this topic. 

The attentive readers of HR Square are now familiar with the concept of circular economy, whose theoretical outlines are described in the first part of this study by CRISP, the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (Belgium). A contextualization which, by omission, once again confirms the observation at the basis of the Circular HRM project: until now, the circular economy has not (yet) grasped the challenge of one of the most precious resources of enterprises: individuals.

The author, Fabienne Collard, a researcher in the Economics sector at the CRISP, is right to point out, however, that while the concept of circular economy may appear complex, 'complexity' also implies 'wealth'. « Contrary to a still widely-held idea, circular economy is far from being limited to recycling alone, she explains. On the contrary, it is the last step before the recovery of energy from waste through incineration. In the logic supported by the concept of circular economy, many other steps are to be encouraged upstream. Circular economy thus offers a multitude of opportunities and different facets. » It is indexed in this context that Pour la Solidarité and its partners are thinking about how to raise awareness among employers, HR managers and managers about the issue of circularity adapted to HRM.  

« Circular economy thus offers a multitude of opportunities and different facets »

Secondly, the CRISP study looks at the regulations put in place to develop a circular economy: at the European level, at the Belgian federal level and at the different regional levels of the country (Wallonia, Brussels-Capital and Flanders). While there is an abundance of initiatives, « professionals in the sector complain that the political authorities have so far confined themselves to statements of intent, in the form of 'road maps', 'action plans' or 'green deals', whereas a real development of this economy would require legislation and binding measures, which have so far been more or less clearly opposed to by the industrial world », observes the author.

Good, but... 

With these elements in place, Fabienne Collard offers a current overview of the implementation of a circular economy in Belgium. With a rate of around 18%, our country is one of the European leaders in the circular use of resources. « On the other hand, recovery and repair activities are still poorly developed in the country », she comments. Belgium is also « particularly efficient » in terms of waste recovery, to quote the Central Economic Council (CCE) which, in the summer of 2019, examined the state of play of Belgium's transition to a circular economy from the point of view of the effectiveness or otherwise of the policies implemented to achieve it. Even if other actors however come to question this (too?) optimistic picture .

In its analysis, the Central Economic Council also notes that Belgium has been lagging behind the European average in terms of eco-innovation since 2012. « This observation can be explained above all by a better positioning of other EU Member States, due to the improvement of their eco-innovation indicators, comments Fabienne Collard. However, the ECC also highlights three obstacles specific to Belgium: the distribution of competences between different levels of government, with little attention paid to the dissemination of good regional practices at national level; a lack of expertise in eco-innovation and circular economy within SMEs; and limited control over the design of most products entering the Belgian market. »

« The opportunities of circular economy in terms of the potential for local job creation and added value (especially in recovery and repair activities) are seldom leveraged in Belgium, the CCE analysis states. The reasons for this include the relatively low investment in these sectors and Belgium's relatively poor performance in terms of patents related to eco-innovation in the fields analysed compared to the rest of Europe. »

Still a long way to go

In order for circular economy to work as efficiently as possible, it is necessary to intervene from the very beginning of the process, during the reflection on the design of the product, according to the logic carried by the economy of functionality, eco-design or the C2C approach, concludes the author of this Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP. « Moreover, circular economy encompasses not only the technical cycle, but also the biological cycle. Finally, circular economy promotes the implementation of industrial synergies to optimise the use of resources and energy between the different partners. "At this stage, it is difficult to understand, in figures and therefore in objectives, the progress made in terms of remanufacturing, eco-design or industrial symbioses, but all these aspects are equally important in a circular economy. »

Christophe Lo Giudice


Project Coordinator

Rue Coenraets 66,
1060 Bruxelles – Belgium
+32 2 535 06 86
Salima Chitalia, Project Manager

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