"The transition towards a Circular Economy. From Waste Management to a Green Economy in Romania" (2018) is a success story in promoting a systemic perspective of the circular economy by identifying the steps needed to operationalize this concept, developing cross-sectoral industrial value chains and highlighting synergistic aspects in relation to green economy. 

This study has been identified as an example of Good Practices of the BIOREGIO project and is part of the Strategy and Policy Studies of the European Institute of Romania (EIR). The program supports the process of elaborating and substantiating Romania's strategies and policies in the post-accession period.

The main objective of the research is to reduce the existing knowledge gap regarding waste valorisation in a circular model, to support the transition to circular economy and the development of a Romanian model of circular economy

Stakeholders involved are Government, all public authorities, research institutes, universities, NGOs, large companies, SMEs, NGOs, citizens. 

The specific objectives of the study are:

  1. analyzing the European and national framework regarding the transition towards a circular economy;
  2. identifying the main implications at the national level of the measures proposed by the European Commission in the Circular Economy Package;
  3. identifying the European and national circular economy good practices;
  4. SWOT analysis of waste management in Romania;
  5. proposing tools and measures to increase resource efficiency in Romania;
  6. proposing public policy recommendations. 

 The research methodology includes a mix of analytical tools to answer key questions such as:  

  • How can a circular economy model be developed in Romania?
  • What is the role of stakeholders?
  • What are the ways of promoting circular economy applicable to the Romanian economic development model?

Starting from the European and national challenges in implementing the new EU Circular Economy Package, the study proposes a circular economy action plan:  

  • updating national legislation
  • encouraging stakeholders to develop standards for waste streams types (e.g. compost, food waste, etc.)  
  • improving integrated development methodologies, specifically the electronic data collection system for all waste streams.

 An important role in this study is represented by the questionnaire addressed to both public and private sector in order to map perceptions of the actors regarding: the potential of the circular economy in Romania, the most relevant waste streams, necessary tools to facilitate the circular and green economy, the barriers to the transition towards a circular economy etc.

 A Living Lab was organised in order to test and validate the elements addressed in the questionnaire: 3 subgroups and a joint debate.

Penny Evans, Bristol Living Lab

 It was an opportunity to start an informal dialogue with the public and private stakeholders to identify solutions to common problems.

 The SWOT analysis of waste management in Romania was another element of the research, through which the waste management situation in Romania was mapped, along with the opportunities for promoting the transition to a circular economy.

 In order to identify the steps to a circular economy model applicable to Romania, a customized version of the DPSIR (Driving Forces-Pressure-State-Impact-Response) model proposed by the European Environment Agency was used.

 The study outlines the European and national circular economy best practices, including the industrial symbiosis processes. EIR study presents the BIOREGIO project as an example of good practice in the transfer of knowledge and policy development in the field of circular bioeconomy.

 The research contains an open list of synergies that are relevant to circular economy with impacts on water and agriculture, soil, mining waste, biodiversity, human health, renewable energy, product design for increasing recyclability, increasing energy efficiency.

This study emphasizes the role of stakeholders in the process of transition, but also the need to train the labour force through formal or non-formal education programs, which can actively contribute to the transition to new types of jobs and skills in Romania.

In the end, the study includes public policy recommendations to stimulate the transition towards a circular economy in Romania: legislative, administrative, economic, social and educational measures, needs of research and communication.

As a conclusion, in order for the circular economy to be successfully implemented in practice, there is an urgent need for political commitment at multiple levels, namely a central coordination at the level of the Government, as well as the involvement of all public authorities, but also of the private sector and NGOs.