David Zabala, CEO of Naturklima, has talked to Samuel Ruiz de Lorenzo, CEO of ScrapAd, about circular economy, recycling and digital transformation during his visit to ScrapAd. In the video you can watch the full interview.
What do you do at Naturklima?
Naturklima is the Gipuzkoan Climate Change Foundation, which was created as a foundation attached to the Provincial Council's Environment Directorate, within the framework of the Gipuzkoan Provincial Council's 2050 climate change strategy.
We have clear lines of action: the first is to analyse how climate change, which is a global problem that we see as very distant in time and also geographically distant, is really having an impact on the territory. To this end, we have a climate change observatory which is the backbone of the foundation and, in addition, every year we publish a report about the impact and vulnerability to climate change in Gipuzkoa.
But beyond analysis and observation, it is very important to take action. When we talk about taking action, two other important areas of the foundation come into play: the circular economy hub, on the one hand, to promote the green economy, and the renewable energy hub. These are the lines of action: on the one hand, analysis and monitoring of climate change and, on the other hand, action: how we can improve the competitiveness of our companies through the circular economy.
What do you think about the challenges for the circular economy in the coming years?
What we have to try to do is to get companies to apply the circular economy in their production processes, in their products, in their services and, to this end, we are seeing a trend in which companies are trying to apply the circular economy. But it is true that they are often at a loss when it comes to implementing actions. And not only that, but often, even if they are not lost, there is an oversaturation of these concepts: sustainability, climate change... I think it is very important to be rigorous in establishing what is circular economy and what is not.
For this reason, the Provincial Council has a cluster called GK Recycling, which includes ScrapAd, which brings together companies in Gipuzkoa that work in the circular economy: reuse and recycling, in particular. They often tell us that what they really want is for it to be proven that they are working in the circular economy, for it to be certified. So one of the challenges, to answer your question, is in the area of certifications and, on the other hand, to continue to make progress, of course, in training so that the new generations, who are coming up and are already more aware, also have specialized training so that when they join our companies they can really apply the circular economy successfully.
It is clear that talking about recycling is talking about the future, isn't it?
Yes, without a doubt. In the end, we are seeing that there are many problems in the field of waste. It is no longer just a problem but also an opportunity for companies: to make savings, to improve efficiency, to generate opportunities for innovation and also differentiation to provide greater added value.
What do you think has been the role of industry and the economy in this sector?
I think it has been fundamental. On the one hand, we always talk about the role of consumers in demanding that companies put sustainable products on the market. But then there are the companies from the very eco-design of the products, when they start to manufacture products and services that then go to the market. There are many challenges that companies have to face in order to become more sustainable in their processes. Companies are doing a great job, I know, and we at Naturklima want to help them to continue doing so.
How do you see the regulations that are being promoted from Europe regarding the dumping of waste in landfills?
I think the key idea is to follow the European hierarchy, the one that Europe dictates in terms of waste. Always start with prevention, because it is always said that the circular economy is based on zero waste, that the best waste is that which is not generated. So, first prevent, then reuse as much as possible, then recycle and then we are already talking about other types of initiatives so that the waste is put back into the cycle.
Would you like to highlight any interesting private initiative within Naturklima?
From Naturklima we are in contact with many companies in Gipuzkoa that are carrying out circular economy initiatives and we are not going to highlight any of them because, in the end, there are many different ones.
As I was saying before, the GK Recycling cluster of the Provincial Council brings together many companies, including you, ScrapAd. For example, at Naturklima we have a programme of business challenges where we promote and accelerate entrepreneurial projects in circular economy and, just recently, we have closed the first edition with three very interesting companies, each one different. In the end, the idea is that there are a lot of very powerful companies here in the region.
Finally, you met ScrapAd today. How do you think ScrapAd can help globally, in the circular economy?
It seems to me that what you are doing is fundamental, because the whole area of digitalization in the area of waste, in the area of the circular economy in general, is critical. One of the challenges that I didn't mention before but that the industry faces is digitalization for scalability.
You are providing a very important solution for companies that have waste and don't know what to do with it and, at the same time, for those companies that are looking for raw materials from secondary sources, to put these two types of companies in contact and to be a platform that I think provides a lot of value.