CleanR Grupa and team of experts working on Latvia’s first Circular Economy Index

09 Feb 2024

CleanR Grupa, in collaboration with an extensive group of experts, has commenced work on the Latvian Circular Economy Index, a unique tool for the state, municipalities and society to support the move toward smarter management and more efficient use of resources available, says Agita Baltbārde, Member of the Board at joint-stock company CleanR Grupa (the Group).

The initiative was born out of studies of international practices and the awareness that we as a society are committed to certain promises at the European Union level, said Baltbārde. Furthermore, CleanR Grupa, a leader in the Latvian waste management industry and circular economy, considers it to be its responsibility to contribute to the achievement of circularity objectives in the Latvian economy and society.

“Looking at the examples of circular economy activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and other countries, we can see are a number of similarities. First, it is the data-driven approach: the effectiveness of circular economy implementation activities is measured over certain periods to determine whether any improvements are needed. Second, there is a bottom-up approach focusing on the motivation of all stakeholders – local authorities, businesses, NGOs and citizens – to get involved. Third, many changes are implemented in the regions, where the broadest range of instruments is available,” explained Baltbārde.

The aim is to create a useful tool to help municipalities see the current situation in the broader picture of circular economy and understand what needs to be improved for the overall well-being of the people of Latvia. By carrying out a self-assessment, municipalities will get a recipe of the areas for improvement and see how they compare with other municipalities.

On the other hand, Latvian researchers and academics are interested in obtaining data to be integrated into future research and provide research-based education. At the same time, the index is also a platform for bringing together ideas, best practices, experts, and new education opportunities.

Work on the Latvian Circular Economy Index is led by Professor, economics and sustainable development expert, Dr. oec. Dzintra Atstāja.

 

On January 31, the first stakeholders’ meeting was held at the European Union House to commence the development of the Circular Economy Index methodology. More than 20 researchers, including university rectors and vice-rectors, participated in the meeting.

“Development of such an index is a challenge because we want it to be usable in the long term and also target-oriented. This means that the methodology has to be detailed and compelling. At the same time, we are doing this with a sense of mission, because we are convinced that we can use this index to help Latvia, our homeland, to develop sustainably,” emphasized Professor Atstāja.

Experts agree that the index has a high potential for practical application. For example, local governments, being aware of which areas of circularity are to be improved, can plan their budgets accordingly or better target support for businesses or different projects. The financial sector is increasingly often including green and sustainability requirements in its lending and financing offers, therefore the index can help municipalities demonstrate their status. The index may eventually be incorporated into policy planning documents.

The Circular Economy Index will enable local governments’ self-assessment in terms of the procedures and results of their work, help them track the dynamics of own performance over years or other periods of time and compare it with other municipalities, receive expert recommendations on priority processes that need to be improved (both in terms of the requirements of the European Green Deal and the interests of residents and businesses), promote success stories and examples of good practice, better understanding of the role of the circular economy in the performance of municipal functions and cooperation with stakeholders, develop recommendations to motivate municipalities to act more responsibly, introduce new support mechanisms and attract funding.

One of the members of the task force, Associate Professor Aivars Vembris from the Department of Physics of Solids and Materials at the University of Latvia’s Faculty of Physics, Mathematics and Optometry, presented the initial version of the index calculation principle. Working in groups, participants in the meeting then defined the circular economy criteria that would be important from the standpoint of residents, businesses and local governments, and assigned relevance or weight to these different criteria.

As the relevance changes, it will still be possible to compare the indices over different periods. For example, what is relevant now may change when self-assessment is repeated.

“This was the first step. Now there is more fundamental work ahead – we will analyze work done by the task force, continue working together on the research methodology and testing the model,” said Professor Atstāja.

The first meeting of the Circular Economy Index was attended by Green Liberty’s expert on climate-friendly lifestyle and environmental economics, Dr. Geogr. Jānis Brizga, EKA University of Applies Sciences Vice-Rector for Science and International Relations, Professor Dr. oec. Jeļena Titko, Director of the Circular Economy Master’s Program at ESA EKA University of Applies Sciences, economist and PhD candidate Edgars Čerkovskis who took part in the development of the Education Quality Index, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor at the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, Dr. oec. Sandra Gusta, circular economy and sustainability Expert, Associate Professor Dr.sc.admin. Natālija Cudečka-Puriņa, University of Latvia Faculty of Law Professor Dr. iur. Sanita Osipova, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences Professors Dr. oec. Agita Līviņa and Dr. oec. Maira Levšcevica, and other prominent circular economy experts.

The University of Latvia’s Institute of Philosophy and Sociology senior researcher, Dr. sc. soc. Andris Saulītis attended the meeting remotely.

“Circular economy is the answer to climate change. When analyzing international experience, we also see that putting circular economy principles into practice benefits the economy – new industries, new businesses and jobs are created,” said Agita Baltbārde, the initiator of the Latvian Circular Economy Index.

CleanR Grupa also strives to follow circularity principles in its operations: the Group is already a zero-waste business as its activities do not generate waste. The companies of the Group provide the entire service cycle, from waste collection to sorting and further recycling, and environmental services – from cleaning premises to full-spectrum urban maintenance.

In 2023, the Group’s plastics recycling plant was put into operation in Ķekava, Latvia’s first construction waste, building material and renovation supply exchange point opened, 20 new electric vehicles were purchased, bringing the share of green vehicles in the Group’s car fleet to 42 percent.

 

About CleanR Grupa

“CleanR Grupa operates Latvia’s leading companies providing environmental services. The Group includes household waste management company CleanR, industrial waste management company CleanR Verso, producer responsibility system provider Zaļā Josta, and environmental services companies: cleaning services company Vizii, urban environment maintenance company Vizii Urban, and apartment building management brand Vizii Domus.

CleanR Grupa provides services to more than 500,000 people in Latvia on a daily basis. The company is characterized by the highest level of digitization in the environmental services industry, high standards of customer service, and its leadership in sustainability and climate neutrality.

Further information:

Zane Plone, Public Relations Manager at JSC CleanR Grupa

Email: [email protected]

Mobile: +371 28 627 003