Adoption of Circular Economy concepts and practices by Portuguese Citizens and Companies

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Abstract

The concept of Circular Economy is an emerging topic and the European Union has established a European Circular Economy Strategy in 2015. Although this concept originates from Europe, there is also an increased attention to the Circular Economy in China and the country has implemented regulatory controls in that regard. The scientific interest on this issue has been increasing and a great deal of research articles has been published in the soundest scientific journals recently. The concept of Circular Economy aims to address the need to pursue economic growth, while protecting the environment (including existing resource limitations and pollution prevention), and paying attention to societal and people needs and expectations. The adoption of Circular Economy can generate considerable tangible and intangible benefits such as new opportunities for co-operation, access to markets and innovation of products and services and, simultaneously, improving the environmental performance and mitigating the risks of resource scarcity. This creates value for the companies and their stakeholders and contributes to enduring success. To assess if the Portuguese citizens and companies support and adopt a “Circular Economy behavior”, an online survey was carried out amongst ISEP - P. Porto population, yielding more than 200 valid responses (65% of the total responses were provided by students). Based on the survey outputs (assessment supported in a 5 point Likert type scale), the following conclusions can be drawn: Most respondents agree that it is beneficial both for the environment and the economy the adoption of production systems based on used products and parts reuse and recycling; There is also agreement that the selective collection of waste should be the base to develop new products and there is significant support for a “zero waste economy” in which all used products or materials are reused or recycled. However, the respondents consider that the Portuguese citizens do not always segregate and deposit their waste in the appropriate waste containers and the same applies to companies that do not segregate and manage their waste adopting a systematically environmentally responsible approach. Moreover, they consider that the Portuguese legislation only mildly supports the adoption, both from citizens and companies, of environmental friendly practices. These conclusions reinforce the need to strengthen Circular Economy concepts and approaches within the Portuguese government, citizens, and companies.

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