The Basque Circular Summit 2022 congress on circular economy and eco-design has recently concluded at the Ficoba exhibition centre in Irun, Gipuzkoa. Organised by the Public Society for Environmental Management of the Basque Government Ihobe, and under the slogan ‘Walking the talk’, the challenges of the circular economy were addressed and the opportunities derived for the Basque economy were analysed, highlighting the work carried out by companies in the territory.
This is one of the most important meetings in this field in Spain and southern Europe, which has brought together more than 600 professionals from different industrial sectors in Irun to learn about new, more sustainable and competitive business models. From Astigarraga Kit Line, always with a clear commitment to local wood, sustainable manufacturing and the circular economy, the manager Jaione Badiola and the chairman of the Board of Directors, Itziar Astigarraga, were present at the opening day.
Circular economy model
The Regional Minister for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment, Arantxa Tapia, opened the first conference, ‘Towards a new, more circular European market’, where she highlighted the strong commitment of Basque industry to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and emphasised the strategic value of applying a circular economy model to achieve the objectives set by Europe, “something that our companies are already doing”, she pointed out. “About 62% of global greenhouse gas emissions are released during the extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods and products to meet society’s needs. For this reason, the promotion of the circular economy in the Basque business fabric is a key tool for the decarbonisation of our economy”, explained Arantxa Tapia.
Local and sustainable wood
Prior to the institutional opening of the Basque Circular Summit, the Minister together with the rest of the authorities, took a guided tour of the ‘Zirkularrak-Circulares’ exhibition,a travelling exhibition that includes 175 sustainable and eco-designed products by 115 Basque companies, which have significantly reduced their environmental impact. From toothpaste in tablets or a shopping trolley made from advertising canvas to products made from 100% local and sustainable wood by Astigarraga Kit Line. Specifically: the Gala bookcase, the Glam easel and one of the wine racks from the Rioja series.
The exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of the potential of eco-design and the circular economy in the different sectors of Basque business activity: automotive, machinery, metal, mobility, the chemical sector, food, furniture, consumer products, construction materials and the electrical and electronics sector.
The second day of the Basque Circular Summit was dominated by SMEs, which are essential to the economy of the European Union and represent 88% of European companies. The general director of Ihobe, Alexander Boto, stressed at the round table that the circular economy is “competitiveness; it is economics.” He also praised instruments such as the Circular SME Programme, “through which the Basque Government wishes to facilitate the transition process towards a circular model for Basque SMEs with tools and economic support to improve their competitiveness”.
For her part, the Basque Government’s Deputy Minister for Environmental Sustainability, Amaia Barredo, continued in the same vein and recalled that “the Basque Country has been working for around 20 years in the field of circular economy, and is currently a benchmark region”. “The circular economy in the region today accounts for 1.12% of GDP, with an annual gross revenue of 764 million euros. In terms of employment, they represent 2.08% of total employment in the Basque Autonomous Community. This value is higher than those of Spain and Germany, which stand at 2% and 1.71%, respectively”, said the Deputy Minister.
The Basque Circular Summit has made it clear that there is no other option: the circular economy is a paradigm shift. In the sessions and round tables held, it was confirmed that there is a commitment to the use of recycled materials, the search for reduced dependence on raw materials, an increase in the useful life of products, greater efficiency in production processes and the development of circular business models.