By popular demand, a new Circular Economy Sector has been launched as part of the UIC Sustainability Platform. This new sector complements the four existing technical groups focusing on energy and CO2, air quality, sustainable land use and noise and vibration.
The new sector brings together member experts in resource efficiency and waste management, all looking to embed circularity into their business processes to save on costs and carbon. The group will follow up on the REUSE project, taking stock of circular economy practices implemented in railways.
The sector’s kick-off meeting was opened by UIC Sustainability Advisor Isabelle De Keyzer, who gave the floor to Christine Vanoppen, Reputation, Engagement and Governance Manager at Lineas and Chair of the Sustainability Platform. In her welcome speech, Ms Vanoppen reminded the participants of the vital importance of sustainable resource management and the opportunities it presents for the railways.
As the Circular Economy Sector is open to all UIC members participating in the Sustainability Platform, the UIC Europe and Asia-Pacific Regional Assemblies were also represented at this inaugural meeting. A total of 24 companies from 17 countries attended the meeting, representing railway operators, freight operators, infrastructure managers, other associations and researchers.
Sebastjan Meza, Researcher at the Slovenian National Institute for Building and Civil Engineering (ZAG), the research institute contracted by UIC to draft the final REUSE report, presented a preview of the outputs from the REUSE project to be published this summer.
The group set out key objectives and priority topics for the sector in an interactive session. Participants were keen to challenge technical standards that limit the rollout of circular economy practices and would like further support for research and innovation on the topic, taking advantage of funding from international institutions such as Horizon Europe Research.
The UIC work programme for 2022 was also examined with the presentation of an opt-in project, ”Zero Waste”, which offers the opportunity for new sector members to take part in best practice workshops to be held once or twice a year starting from January 2022. The aim of the workshops will be to share circular economy best practices and forge new partnerships with the entire supply chain.
Katy Beardsworth, Environmental Strategy Manager at Network Rail, was elected as Chair of the Sector, and Ilse de Vos van Eekeren, Programme Manager, Circular Business at Dutch Railways (NS), applied for the position of co-chair.
Further meetings have been scheduled for 21 September and 24 November.