Special session (from 15:30 to 17:00)

High-level dialogue on Circular Economy

Chairperson: Karl Vrancken

The first session constitutes of a panel debate and places CE in a global context. The purpose of this semi-plenary session is to position CE as an overarching framework as well as demonstrating its global significance.

The first part will evaluate the societal, political and business challenges related to the transition towards a CE. What are its effects on society, business and industry, and how does it influence different policy initiatives? Representatives from different organizations will share their perspectives as they discuss the challenges and effects of CE.

The second part brings together experts from around the world to exchange challenges and solutions regarding CE. Given the vast cultural, operational, and educational differences globally, it is important to take a broader look at CE and gain an understanding of the different geographic perspectives. The debate will act as an intermediary session, concluding the ‘Circular Economy Hotspot’ event, whilst simultaneously introducing CE as a global concept. The session will present a broad overview on the status of the transition towards CE and the apparent challenges and opportunities that currently exist.

For this year, G-STIC has invited representatives from CE-related organisations around the world. The panel will be moderated by Karl Vrancken, chairman of the European Circular Economy Research Alliance (ECERA). The next section provides a more in-depth explanation of each representative.

Societal and political challenges for creating a circular economy

Lieze Cloots will kick-start the special session by sharing some of the key discussion points of the World Resource Forum (WRF), focusing specifically on the societal and political challenges for creating a circular economy. One such challenge involves the need for society to adapt its lifestyle and reduce its carbon footprint, along with the infrastructural changes that are needed to support this change. Another challenge relates to the need for political action, and the courage it takes to organise a systemic shift that can scale up existing circular initiatives and make them mainstream.

Lieze Cloots
Challenges in advancing the global transition towards a circular economy

After discussing the societal and political dimensions of CE, Ke Wang, representative of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), will focus on the challenges to scaling up action and advancing the CE transition. More specifically, Wang will talk about the stimuli needed to make the global transition towards a CE. PACE was launched during the 2018 World Economic Forum Annual meeting and is a public-private collaboration platform and project accelerator for CE. To successfully transition towards a CE, PACE recognizes the need for effective leadership throughout, thus convening a global leadership group committed to advancing the CE transition and working to overcome barriers to progress. It catalyzes projects and supports affiliated partner led projects globally to scale up CE on various topics including plastics and electronics.

Ke Wang
The Industry 4.0 for Circular Economy Readiness tool in ASEAN economies

Venkatachalam Anbumozhi is a Senior Economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Indonesia. He developed a readiness analysis for Asian countries, concerning Industry 4.0 and circular economy. In his contribution he will present the results of this analysis and discuss insights on North-South collaboration for implementation of a digital circular economy.

Venkatachalam Anbumozhi
Engaging leadership in developing sustainable waste management solutions

ISWA (International Solid Waste Association) has recently developed the Initiative for Mayors and Municipalities (IMM), focusing on the importance of engaging leadership in developing sustainable waste management solutions. Through this IMM initiative, ISWA aims at making know-how and best practices accessible to decision makers and those who influence policymaking on regional and national levels. The speaker will discuss the importance of leadership and policymaking in enabling a circular economy.

Philip Heylen
A Middle Easter perspective on the transition towards a circular economy

Mohammed Al-Harty will discuss the challenges and barriers to implementing a circular economy model from a Middle Easter perspective. He will share his knowledge and expertise in the area of sustainable waste management, and will focus on the challenges of establishing the required infrastructure, restructuring municipal waste collection services and improving public awareness of waste management.

Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Harthy

Special session (from 17:15 to 18:00)

Integrated solutions for waste management and circular economy

Chairperson: Karl Vrancken

The second CE session will refocus on G-STIC and its emphasis on integrated technological solutions. We will consider how such solutions are taking a different perspective in various regions of the world, looking e.g. at the Middle East and South-East Asia. We will explore the existing and possible interactions between digital technologies, manufacturing and circular economy. Although there is a lot of complementarity between these domains, as discussed in previous GSTIC editions, true collaboration or integration remains to be developed.

Organic and printed electronics association (PragmatIC)

Traceability of products and servitisation of consumer goods will be based on the ability to track and trace materials. This will rely on the availability and development of printed electronics. As the organic and printed electronics industry moves into commercialization, the OE-A believes that sustainability is an increasingly important topic. It is critical that we examine our products and processes to identify how efficiently they are produced, how well we use the materials with which they are constructed, and how well they use power and other consumables when in operation. Finally, when these devices come to the end of their lifetime, we need to identify how they can be recycled or dealt with in a responsible, sustainable manner.

Gillian Ewers
Innovative waste management and circulrity practices in the Sharjah (UAE) region

Eng. Mohamed Al Hosani is the CEO of the Consultancy, Research and Innovation (CRI) arm of Bee’ah. Bee’ah, the Middle East’s fastest growing environmental management company, with the objective of creating a sustainable future, through creative and resourceful solutions. Its daughter company Tandeef is responsible for the collection and cleansing of municipal waste across several regions of the UAE, including the emirate of Sharjah, selected zones of Abu Dhabi and others. In this presentation we will explore how innovative approaches to waste management and circularity have brought Sharjah, to the position of Environmental Capital of the Middle East. Through revolutionary environmental management practices, systematic waste management, sustainability strategies for key resources and utilization of renewable energy sources, as well as community engagement initiatives, Bee’ah seeks to set a benchmark for sustainability, for cities and communities everywhere.

Mohamad Al Hosani
Case study

Sessions also related to the Circular Economy theme

Partner event (from 10:00 to 12:00)

Circular Hotspot Belgium

After The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Scotland, Belgium will be hosting the Circular Economy Hotspot in 2019.

The event will occur days preceding the conference. It will gather over 200 CE experts from the business and policy field on a trip through Flanders, to visit different CE companies. The event highlights and promotes the endeavours of companies and organisations that are fostering innovation in the field of circular economy.

Closing session Circular Economy Hotspot Belgium

The Circular Economy Hotspot’s closing session will be hosted by G-STIC on November 20. While the Hotspot event mainly focuses on company visits, G-STIC will give you the opportunity to bring your perspective to the discussions and to expand your knowledge on crucial transition processes related to circular economy and sustainability.

More information about Circular Economy Hotspot Belgium can be found here.

Deep dive on Oceans & Circular Economy (from 15:30 to 16:50)

Technological solutions for marine plastics

Chairperson: Karl Vrancken

The issue of marine plastics and ocean pollution has at last taken the spotlight. The rapidly increasing levels of marine litter present serious environmental problems at a global scale. These problems are widespread, affecting not just animal well-being and marine biodiversity, but whole ecosystems, livelihoods, societies and economies. The UNEA stresses the importance of better and more sustainable management of plastics throughout their lifecycles to enhance sustainable production and consumption patterns. Such sustainable patterns involve sustainable economic models like the circular economy, as well as environmentally sound waste management, resource efficiency, sustainable materials management, the development of innovative technologies, the environmentally sound clean-up of existing marine plastic litter and international cooperation to prevent marine pollution.

To achieve such objectives, UN Environment recognizes a need to strengthen scientific and technological knowledge with regard to marine litter. Therefore, a project has been set up to identify and disseminate technological solutions for the prevention of marine plastic litter, with a main focus on macro plastics and using land-based (waste management) and near-shore (litter capturing) technologies for selected world regions. The project aims to (1) generate a database of technological solutions to prevent and reduce marine litter, (2) create a technical report describing the role of the technological solutions in sustainable management of plastics throughout the value chain, (3) evaluate the knowledge gaps and capacity gaps, with attention for differences in various regions of the world, especially developed and developing countries and (4) develop policy recommendations for best points of intervention to prevent and reduce marine litter.

This round-table discussion will stimulate a debate on the challenges of and technical solutions for the prevention of marine plastics. As a way of kickstarting the project, the session aims to unite key stakeholders for this project, allowing each to share their standpoint and involvement. The session will be open table, inviting those attending G-STIC 2019 to sit in and ask questions to stimulate an informal debate around the role of technology in preventing marine plastics.

The potential of technology in combatting plastics marine pollution

Materials scientist and polymer processing engineer by background, prof. dr. Kim Ragaert is an associate professor at Ghent University. Her research domain is ‘Sustainable Use and Recycling of Polymers and Composites’ at the Department of Materials Textiles and Chemical Engineering. She leads and participates in several (inter)national recycling projects, alongside a variety of industrial partners, policy makers and other academia. Prof. Ragaert is the chair of the Plastics to Resource pipeline within CAPTURE, a Resource Recovery platform wherein she creates synergies with colleagues active in thermochemical recycling, polymer design for recyclability, food packaging, waste logistics, sorting/decontamination and LCAs.

She will use her scientific background, international involvement in various recycling projects and experience at CAPTURE, to share technological solutions and discuss technology’s potential in combatting plastics marine pollution.

Kim Ragaert
Alliance to End Plastic Waste

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a voluntary agreement between chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies. It generated a set of collaborative projects that reflect a range of solutions to help end plastic waste, such as: partnering with cities to design integrated management systems in large urban areas where infrastructure is lacking; promoting technologies, business models and entrepreneurs to prevent ocean plastic waste; developing an open-source data platform to provide valuable information about the sources, location and formats of plastic waste to help support waste management projects; building collaboration with intergovernmental organizations to identify the most effective solutions; and supporting investment and engagement to capture plastic waste before it reaches the ocean.

Peter Segers
Circular Plastics Alliance

The Circular Plastics Alliance gathers public and private stakeholders in the plastics value chains to promote voluntary actions and commitments for more recycled plastics. The Circular Plastics Alliance wants to ensure that 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics are used to make products in Europe in 2025.

Alexandre Dangis
Ubuntoo technology platform

Ubuntoo is a global community of change makers, collaborating to solve plastic pollution. They provide a community and platform for innovative technologies for plastics collection, recycling and prevention. It provides information and stimulates debate and exchange of views between innovators in the technological field.

Peter Schelstraete

Industry Night session (from 17:00 to 18:20)

Integrated technological solutions for digital circular innovation

Chairperson: Karl Vrancken


The circular economy is a complex transition to tackle. A number of companies of all sizes and in all sectors have already experimented with ad hoc experiments or have implemented circular principles. It helps underlining the potential, but so far the number of outspoken circular strategies is still limited.

Given dependency on critical resources, the manufacturing industry has most to gain from switching to a circular economy. Maturing digital technologies help as necessary enablers to tackle complexity, as was discussed at G-STIC2017 and 2018. Bridging manufacturing and digital industries might be key to achieve the envisioned acceleration and upscaling of circular possibilities and proven practices with an eye to limiting resource dependencies and supply risks, but also with an eye to achieve the 2050 goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Servitisation is one of the strategies within a circular approach that is of growing interest to many companies, as it offers many advantages ranging from resource management, over customer connection, to insight in product usage over the lifecycle.

Session approach:

This deep dive session is organised by the technology sector federation Agoria. It kicks off with 2-3 company presentations, to have a view and testimonial from both manufacturing and digital industry, and also brings a reflection from an EU point of view. Mature companies are challenged by a number of digital start-ups and niche frontrunners in the manufacturing industry.

In a panel debate the invited speakers tackle questions such as: how to tweak the existing linear model step-by-step to a more circular approach? Which digital technologies will speed up the innovation in circular manufacturing? Is servitization the next big thing, and can it be more than ‘As A Service’? What roles can norms and standards play to guide or boost this evolution? Should governments, industries and science & knowledge institutes interact more on this matter? Which digital skills are needed to reap the full potential?

Digitalisation as an enabler for a circular economy
The role of digital in developing circular business
Digital skills in a digital circular economy
Data, AI & the circular economy

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