The Commission published today the new European Research Area (ERA) industrial technology roadmap for circular technologies and business models. It identifies key circular technologies and innovation needs for the textile, construction and energy-intensive industries. It calls for a comprehensive approach to develop and adopt those technologies at all stages of the materials and products life cycle. Use of circular technologies in the industrial sectors will contribute to reducing pressure on natural resources and to the EU's climate neutrality target for 2050.
The roadmap highlights investment needs which will help EU industry to further strengthen its position as a global leader. The EU has the highest share (32%) of companies worldwide active in circular economy technologies compared to e.g. the US (20%) and China (4.4%). The EU is also leading in circular economy technology inventions in absolute terms and as a share of green inventions at global level.
Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Education, Culture and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said:
The impact of climate change is tangible and action is needed now. The transition to a circular economy is not an option but a necessity. Circular technologies will reduce industrial emissions and pollution and allow European industry to remain at the forefront of technological development and green-tech based competitiveness.
Key findings for research and innovation in the three sectors include:
- A life-cycle approach is necessary to fully tap into the potential of circular technologies. Implementing circular economy principles already in materials’ design and development is in line with other initiatives, such as the Strategic Research and Innovation Plan for chemicals (SRIP) or the Materials 2030 Manifesto. This will trigger more systemic change and will affect not only the life of materials, but the entire product-service value chain.
- End-of-life technologies, including pre-recycling technologies, such as collection, sorting and disassembly technologies, need further efforts to be deployed to the market. Data on products and materials are needed all along the production and use, chain.
- New product design and advanced materials will trigger more systemic change across the entire value chain.
- Digital technologies have a key role for industrial circularity, across products’ life cycles. Their use and impact often depend on their specific role and state of development in the phases of design, production, sorting/recycling.
- Regulation plays a key role for the development of the circular economy in the EU Single Market. The Green Deal has further accelerated this development since the action plan for a Circular Economy was adopted. As the proposals for new legislation start covering all phases of the lifecycle of relevant products and is doing so more and more comprehensively, the need for innovative industrial technologies and business models is increasing in order to meet the upcoming e.g. eco-design and circularity requirements.
The report, prepared with input from Member States, industry and other stakeholders, assesses R&I investments and programmes and key technologies, their maturity and potential and suggests means to develop and scale them up. It looks at the framework conditions impacting the development of technologies and business models, including incentives and barriers to innovation. Its analysis builds on Horizon Europe partnerships with industry which address key challenges of circularity in processing and manufacturing, building, and bio-based industries. This is the second report on industrial technologies supporting the green transition, following the publication of the ERA industrial technology roadmap for low-carbon technologies in energy-intensive industries in April 2022. Its findings will also feed into the upcoming transition pathway for the textiles, construction and chemicals ecosystems, as announced in the updated Industrial strategy.
Website: ERA industrial technologies roadmaps
- Publication date
- 24 January 2023
- Directorate-General for Research and Innovation