Circular Economy for SMEs - CESME, a new European-wide project to help smaller businesses to enter the circular economy and operate in a more sustainable and profitable way has kicked off in Wales.

Circular economy is a key concept of the Green Economy, where high-quality materials derived from waste products can be supplied back to Welsh manufacturers and productively used again and again.

CESME project has been established to support SMEs to enter the green economy and future proof their business in a greener and more sustainable way.

Supported by €1.39 million of Interreg Europe funding (€ 1.63 million overall funding) and including 10 partners from six European countries, the project will share experiences, identify best practice and provide a step by step guide for SMEs to become included in the circular economy.

The project also aims to improve the impact and effectiveness of policy by providing policy makers with the knowledge and understanding of the benefits of the circular economy and advise on how policy and support packages can be used to help SMEs to enter the circular economy.

Wales hosted the first partner event in May (17-18/05/16), which saw all ten partners gather in Cardiff to identify good practice and hear from a number of Welsh circular economy experts including the Ecodesign Centre Wales and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Cymru. During the first partner event delegates visited local SME Orangebox, winner of the 2002 Wales Environment Award, to understand more about their sustainable operating practices. The company undertook a pilot project in 2014 to design an office chair and accompanying sales model optimised for a circular economy. The pilot study has shown that 98% of the chair is recyclable and when rolled out this ‘Office Chair for Life’ will have the potential to generate sales of £5million per annum and £2.5million of added value for Orangebox’s supply chain.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths commented on the project importance to help push the circular economy agenda forward, by sharing valuable expertise that will help break down barriers for SMEs and bring this vision into a reality.

The CESME project is expected to last for four years with the first phase focused on working with policy makers to shape and improve selected policy instruments and the second phase working with SMEs.  


  • The CESME project was initiated by the Business Development Centre in North Denmark, who act as project lead. The project partnership includes overall ten partners from six European countries: Denmark (DK), Italy (IT), Finland (FI), Bulgaria (BG), United Kingdom (UK) and Greece (GR).
  • Other partners are Metropolitan City of Bologna (IT), ERVET SpA – Emilia Romagna Development Agency (IT), Regional Council of South Ostrobothnia (FI), JPYP Business Service (FI), Bulgarian Association of Municipal Environmental Experts (BG), Welsh Government (UK), Development Agency of Eastern Thessaloniki’s Local Authorities (GR) and the Region of Central Macedonia (GR).