OECD presents the Tallinn circular economy report

  • 2023-06-06

Today, at the 5th international OECD circular economy roundtable held in Tallinn, a report of Tallinn’s circular economy was introduced. The report, completed after 20 months of fieldwork and interviews shows the current state and challenges of the transition to a circular economy in Tallinn and gives recommendations for a successful transition.

The report was a cooperation of OECD, the city of Tallinn and several partners from the public and private sector and NGOs. Circular economy has never been studied so thoroughly in Tallinn before: waste management, public procurements, construction, digital services, smart city tools, sustainability, climate neutrality, tourism and food industry all have been analysed in the report.

“The wasteful economic model of take, use and throw away cannot take us forward anymore, because it is an excessive burden to the environment. Therefore, implementing circular economy is an important goal for the city of Tallinn. We would like to thank OECD for its comprehensive work, the results of which will help us set new goals to implement the transition to a circular economy. We are happy to say that so much has already been done in Tallinn, but more systematic and ambitious work still awaits us,” Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Mr. Joosep Vimm said.

The OECD report recognizes Tallinn for the steps the city has already taken in making waste management more sustainable, for example, the city has achieved a higher level of separate collection, is planning to open circular economy centres, as re-use rooms and repair workshops are being added to waste stations. This clearly supports reducing consumption and keeping things in circulation.

Tallinn has also issued guidelines for designing circular economy business models and rules for organizing sustainable events.

At the same time, the report indicates that the transition to a circular economy still requires filling several gaps. For example, the city lacks a clear division of roles and responsibilities related to the transition to a circular economy. The duties of the city's circular economy department are mostly related to waste management, but with more resources, it has great potential to include other areas related to the circular economy and be more efficient. Currently, there is also a lack of human resources, knowledge, awareness, technical skills, cooperation skills for a transition to a circular economy.

One critical area is the green procurements – although more and more sustainable criteria are being used, several circular economy principles are currently excluded from procurements because price is the most important criteria, and it is not clear what the city defines as green and circular.

There is a lack of a unified regulatory framework supporting the transition to a circular economy between the state and local governments.

In the report, the OECD gives specific recommendations what Tallinn should do. The recommendations to be carried out in a shorter period are to expand the circular economy department, assign specific roles and responsibilities there, develop a circular economy strategy and organize in-house circular economy-related trainings, information days, invite experts to speak.

In addition, cooperation with Estonian state institutions should be strengthened to harmonize national and local strategies, to improve the use of financial and human resources.

The report's conclusions are primarily based on meetings held in Tallinn and online, where OECD experts interviewed around 60 representatives of different fields. As the circular economy plays a key role in the reduction of indirect CO2 emissions, Tallinn will start working on drafting the Circular Economy Strategy, based on the recommendation of the report.

More than 100 people from 24 countries participated in the 5th OECD circular economy roundtable in Tallinn, and more than 200 people from 63 countries watched the live online broadcast.