Authors: Marcus Ahlström (RISE), Lukas Bigum (RISE), Fredric Norefjäll (RISE), Sten Stenbeck (RISE), Karina Barquet (SEI).
To successfully transition to a circular economy it is necessary to, through dialogue, shift mindsets about waste and by-products among both decision-makers and the general public, to enable efficient recovery of valuable resources in abundant waste streams from society.
Turning wastewater and agricultural by-products into new useful products will require cooperation in order to drive the necessary development of ecotechnologies that are economically feasible to invest in and operate, that provide a product with suitable properties, and that is socio-culturally acceptable by the consumer who ends up purchasing the end-product. Social innovation approaches are increasingly advocated as they give stakeholders a voice, it allows them to present their concerns and be part of the creative process.
Also, involving stakeholders improves the identification of local problems which likely improves the suggested solutions, and increases the chances of acceptance and uptake of the solutions. In order to create a real demand for solutions, policies and goals must be aligned with the needs; the market or an innovation system must be in sync with the needs and the procuring organisations must have procurement capacity.
The purpose of this report is to present a comprehensive toolbox for stakeholders such as authorities at regional, national and municipal levels, to support the transition to a circular economy by facilitating development and procurement of eco-technologies that are closing the loops of nutrients and carbon. The tools presented here are designed to help with determining criteria for the selection of suitable ecotechnologies through social innovation, providing evidence for their effectiveness and identifying their readiness for implementation, as well as determining their sustainability. Additional tools provide methods for promoting existing ecotechnologies and ways to procure and support innovation as well as approaches to directly contribute to the development of innovative solutions.
The concluding chapter of the toolbox presents ways of creating incentives, as decision-makers, for increased development of new innovative ecotechnologies. Decision-makers need support to be able to make good decisions and these decisions need to be based on sound reasoning. In this aspect the BONUS RETURN project strives to add value and support.