Funding the circular economy nationally and across the EU

As the circular economy comes to the forefront of policy with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan as a part of the EU Green Deal and with Ireland’s the Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy, it is important to note how the circular economy is being funded across the EU and nationally. 

The EU is supporting circular projects and innovation through several programmes. One of those is the LIFE programme, the only EU programme dedicated to climate and environment projects, has been awarded €5.4 billion in funding. This funding will help the EU transition towards a resource sufficient and circular economy while helping to make climate action a key focus of all EU policy. Additionally, Horizon Europe supports research and initiatives aimed at improving European competitiveness, including projects that focus on sustainability and the circular economy. Another EU funding programme, C-VoUCHER, supports small-to-medium enterprises by helping them develop and improve their linear business models towards circularity. 

In Ireland, the government has put forward the Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme (CEIGS). This scheme aims to support projects that work to advance the circular economy in Ireland, while raising awareness for the need to transition to a circular economy. The government also funds circular economic initiatives through other programmes, like the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, inspiring the creation of new, market challenging technologies, and the Just Transition Fund aimed at bringing upskilling to Midlands region workers as the region moves towards more sustainable practices. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has also announced the funding of four projects aimed at reducing food waste generated by food businesses, retailer/wholesalers, or suppliers in rural areas, under the Rural Innovation and Development Fund. 

Additionally, Enterprise Ireland funds both SMEs and larger companies looking to develop more sustainable business practices through their Green Start and Green Plus programmes. The EPA also supports research organisations, SMEs, and multinationals to find circular solutions in Irish industries through the Green Enterprise Fund. Recently, the EPA has announced a research call with up to €10.5 million available for new research projects. The funding will be provided under four different climate and environmental themes: addressing climate change evidence needs, facilitating a green and circular economy, delivering a healthy environment, and protecting and restoring our natural environment.