Coordinated by Isabelle De Keyzer, UIC Sustainability Senior Advisor, the Circular Economy Sector’s second meeting was held on 21 September. The meeting was opened by Katy Beardsworth, Environmental Strategy Manager at Network Rail and Chair of the Sector, who offered the participants the opportunity to briefly introduce themselves.
The floor was then taken by Ilse de Vos van Eekeren, Programme Manager, Circular Business at Dutch Railways (NS) and Sector Co-Chair, who presented the outcome of a questionnaire sent in advance of the meeting to the members of the UIC Circular Economy Sector in order to define its mission statement, vision, goal and purpose. Based on the responses gathered, Ms de Vos van Eekeren created and presented an initial draft, which included a proposed alignment with other working groups in the railway sector, infrastructure sector and cross-sector. The participants discussed the documents, and Sector members are invited to provide feedback by email by 1 November.
Ms De Keyzer then presented the Zero Waste railways project, the aim of which is to exchange knowledge and promote good practices through workshops bringing together experts from the rail sector as well as the overall supply chain. It is expected that one or two workshops will be held each year, and the project will run over two years. As eight UIC members have shown interest in this project, it will kick off in January 2022. Further interested members may still opt in.
A discussion followed with the aim of deciding on the topics to be addressed during the workshops. Participants are welcome to propose topics. Key subjects such as construction of railway stations, infrastructure, rolling stock, ballast recycling and reuse of materials were mentioned, and the list will be completed by means of a survey.
Charles Rosseel, Project Advisor, UIC External Funding Unit, provided an overview of funding opportunities available in the most recent European calls for projects relating to the circular economy from the Horizon Europe and Life programmes. He presented the topics proposed by the European Commission for 2021 and 2022, which include circularity of composite strategics, climate neutrality, circular raw material, digitalisation and circularity in buildings and the construction sector.
Invited at the initiative of the Sector Co-Chair, Brendan Edgerton, CE Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), discussed metrics applicable to businesses. These metrics have been defined to provide insight on circularity at company level in order to drive the transition towards a circular economy, encouraging business to adopt innovative circular models. Mr Edgerton also mentioned the Circular Transition Indicators (CTI) tool designed to help businesses measure and improve their circular performance.
Martin Brennan, UIC Head of Innovation and Research, highlighted the various opportunities to promote the cause of circularity with academic support through the International Rail Research Board and the UIC Research and Innovation Coordination Group.
At the end of the meeting, members were invited to provide their feedback on the mission statement and on the topics to be selected for the workshops on zero-waste railways.
The next meeting will be held on 24 November.