The concept of circular economy has been spreading around the member states of the European Union since 2015 when the First Circular Economy Action Plan was adopted by the European Commission. Since then, the Second Circular Economy Action Plan was adopted in March 2020. It is one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal, Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth.

The EU has developed a policy to support the gradual integration of the Western Balkan countries with the Union. The circular economy is one of the key instruments in this transition. Circular economy initiatives in the WB countries are still at early stages and countries would benefit from more investments in upscaling promising innovations and monitoring towards circularity.

With aim at providing the platform for constructive dialogue among key actors and drivers within circular economy chain, CENER 21 has organized a round table Enhancing a resource-efficient, circular economy in the food industry.

The event was organized in partnership with the Foreign Trade Chamber BiH on 29th November in Chamber premises. It gathered over 30 participants from governmental institutions, private sector, academia, civil society organisations, organisations for business development etc.

The event was structured as a panel discussion with two opening presentations aiming to initiate discussion among participants. Ms Amina Begić (CENER21) and Mr Vladimir Grabovac (Biona & Beyond) opened the panel with presentations on the key principles of circular economy and resource efficiency showcasing the potential for the BiH food sector to reach the EU market.

Afterwards, panellists Mr Mehmed Cero (Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism), Mr Vladimir Grabovac (Biona & Beyond) and Mr Zihnija Hasović (EBRD) joined the event moderator Ms Esma Manić (CENER 21) to dive deeper into possibilities to boost circularity in the food sector.

Read the key messages from this event below:

  • Mr Cero pointed out that the Ministry is always ready to cooperate with industries in order to reduce environmental impact and stated that conservation of resources in the food industry is the future of sustainable development of local communities.
  • Mr Grabovac emphasized that the introduction of circular economy business model at the company level is a long and dynamic process, thus it is crucial for entrepreneurs to stay determined to make changes as they bring multiple benefits. Introducing circularity might be a complex task, but cost savings generated through energy, water and waste reduction showcased that the process was worthwhile, stated the CEO of Biona.
  • Mr Hasović highlighted that the EBRD has credit lines that are exclusively intended for the sustainable development of the industrial sector. These lines are tailor made to support entrepreneurs who decide to implement resource efficiency measures. In addition, the EBRD provides free consultations to all potential beneficiaries who foresee to introduce such projects in their companies.

During the discussion, participants agreed that the introduction of the circular economy in the food sector is the key to economic stability of BiH. Industrial symbiosis and triple helix were recognized as the potential strategies to jump start circularity in the sector. In parallel, alignment of national and entity legal framework with the EU policies might be the key driver for the companies to start recognizing circular economy and resource efficiency as the strategies for better market positioning.

Recognizing these challenges in food industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina, CENER 21 devised the project Resource Efficiency towards Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection, implemented within the project “Think Nature!” with the support of Center for Civil Society Promotion (CPCD) and financially supported by Sweden.