19 May 2021
And what if we moved to a circular economy?
The circular economy is booming. Sustainable solutions are popping up everywhere to reduce waste and preserve natural resources while creating jobs.
It's the story of a brewer who produces beer from unsold bread and a baker who kneads his bread from brewery waste. A college that offers training in “circular construction” or a company that creates protein-rich food product from leftovers to feed livestock. It's the story of workers who switched career paths and who now make furniture and design objects from wood and metal off-cuts. Or again the story of a company that takes excavated land from construction sites and transforms it into construction materials. What do they all have in common? They all contribute to the circular economy. As such, they are among the 18 winners of the 2020 ING Fund for a more circular economy, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. Again this year, ING is spending 250,000 euros to give a boost to the country's most promising projects.
The circular economy in a nutshell
Unlike the traditional, so-called "linear" economy, the circular economy is based on recycling products or raw materials in order to extend their lifecycle. In so doing, pressure on raw materials is reduced and waste is limited. Another important benefit is that such initiatives often create jobs as well.
The circular economy: an economic opportunity for businesses
87% of the businesses in the Brussels-Capital region that took part in the Circular Economy Regional Programme (PREC) barometer event said they saw the circular economy as an opportunity for the future. There are several economic benefits:
- Increased competitiveness by reducing production costs and raw materials purchases. For example, SOFIE, a cooperative company, repairs used appliances with spare parts that have already been used. The cost of these parts accounts for just 1/3 of what the company would have spent on new parts.
- The creation of new revenue streams by charging for a service or a rental rather than selling a product. Our example, SOFIE, also offers a broken appliance repair service for individuals. This complementary activity enables it to generate additional revenue.
- Improving security of supply and controlling cost increases. The New Norm Company has created a brand of eco-friendly sneakers made in Europe from 6 plastic bottles. It knows where its raw materials come from and uses 100% of the recycled materials. In this way, the company has better control over costs and is less likely to suffer from any increases in raw material prices.
- Job creation. AMA manufactures clothing from textile industry waste. When preparing her collection, she called on social insertion companies.
But seeing the circular economy solely on the basis of its potential profitability is not enough. This must be an informed choice since moving to the circular economy entails risks and requires investments.
How does ING finance the circular economy?
"We can support businesses beyond the start-up and scale-up phases through our financial instruments. Such instruments as credit, leasing contracts or supply chain finance. We are also granting an increasing amount of green financing to circular activities.” Joost van Dun, Circular Economy Lead at ING.
>Read more (article in french)
Support programs for businesses
Fortunately, businesses are not alone in their sustainable transition. In particular, they can rely on public initiatives developed to promote the circular economy. In this sense, the be circular, be Brussels platform in Brussels, the SPW économie circulaire platform in Wallonia and the Vlaanderen Circulair platform in Flanders offer them support, collaboration and coordination assistance.
In 2020, the ING Fund, under the King Baudouin Foundation, supported 18 Belgian projects developed within the framework of the circular economy.
ING is committed to the circular economy
Since 2018, ING has been supporting job creation in the circular economy in Belgium. How? Through the ING Fund managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. Since its inception, this fund has supported dozens of projects at a cost of over 875,000 euros. For the 4th consecutive year, the ING Fund will help more companies promote the circular economy, job creation and/or training for people. These projects will each receive assistance ranging from 5,000 to 25,000 euros, for a total amount of 250,000 euros.