Circular economy study identifies 3 million jobs across Europe

9th September 2015

Today, WRAP’s latest study shows expansion of the circular economy could create 3 million extra jobs and reduce unemployment by 520,000 across EU member states by 2030. 

Economic Growth Potential of More Circular Economies’ builds on the report published earlier this year, ‘Employment and the Circular Economy – Job creation in a more resource efficient Britain’ to show the picture across the EU.

The study is the first that details the employment potential for each Member State, the industries that would support it, and the skills that would be required.

The circular economy workforce already spans across Europe, but this study illustrates the jobs potential for individual Member States.

Currently, it’s estimated that there are 3.4 million people employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste & recycling and rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. Expansion in circular economy potentially offers employment opportunities in all Member States (large and small) and jobs that match the skills that are under supplied in the market. 

Several scenarios illustrated are considered in this paper, showing that:

On the current development path, by 2030 expansion in circular economy in Europe could:

·         create an extra 1.2 million jobs; and

·         reduce structural unemployment by around 250,000 

However, a transformational expansion in circular economy in Europe, by 2030 has the potential to:

·         create an extra 3 million jobs; and

·         reduce structural unemployment by around 520,000

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovering and reusing products and materials.

Examples of circular business models include designing goods to last longer, which can lead to greater reuse; greater repairability which can support the growing remanufacturing industry; and allowing for easy recovery of materials when a product is eventually recycled. Service models, which could include product maintenance and take back schemes as well as rental and peer-to-peer sharing models, also hold much potential.

Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP said:

Providing the bigger picture for the jobs potential from the circular economy for each individual Member State makes the case for the EU to adopt an ‘ambitious’ circular economy package even stronger. This added layer of detail is the missing piece of the jigsaw that shows how the circular economy supports the themes of the Commission’s wider plan for job creation and growth. It’s clear that many countries could see considerable benefits which could improve the jobs market, the economy, as well as the environment.” 



1.      WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals looking for practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits.


2.      Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through:

a.      re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,

b.      re-thinking how we use and consume products, and

c.       re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.

3.      First established in 2000, WRAP is a registered charity.  WRAP works with UK governments and other funders to help deliver their policies on waste prevention and resource efficiency.  WRAP is a registered Charity No 1159512 and registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No 4125764. Registered office at Second Floor, Blenheim Court, 19 George Street, Banbury, Oxon, OX16 5BH.


For further information contact:


Kirsty Warren | Corporate PR Officer | WRAP

Direct 01295 819924|Mobile 07815 509022