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EU programme for education, training, youth and sport

CYCLE: Circular economy competences

Making the case for lifelong learning
Related priority: A European Green Deal


When ignorance is no longer bliss…

In the last 150 years or so, industrialised societies have been steadily moving away from sustainable coexistence with other forms of life and the Earth’s natural resources. The planet will undoubtedly seek a new state of balance, but at what cost to biodiversity, quality of life and the very form of entire landscapes and their associated habitats, with rising sea levels and melting glaciers?

One strategy to prevent the worst-case scenarios is to make the transition from a linear to a circular economy, as proposed by the European Commission in one of its six key priorities – a European Green Deal.

The transition to a circular economy means making the best use of products, components and materials, for as long as possible. And when they reach the end of their life, to use them again, perhaps in a different form.

The Erasmus+ supported CYCLE (Circular Economy Competences. Making the Case for Lifelong Learning) project recognises the central role that education and awareness play in this transition, by training trainers in the principles and practices of the circular economy. And these trainers will, in turn, go on to teach others.

Circular economy competences in adult education

The CYCLE project, with partners in six European Union member states, has created a set of learning tools to enable non-vocational adult trainers (NVATs) to introduce circular economy competences into adult education.

The pedagogical model underlying this training is summarised in a 63-page report, which looks at the state of circular economy competencies in adult education in the partner countries. The project has also produced online competence centres for trainers, in six languages, with content adapted to each national partner’s circumstances.

Other lasting outputs for future trainers include the methodology behind the project and a link to six lesson plans sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Particularly engaging are the Circular Stories that arose as a result of the CYCLE project, including a booklet available in PDF form about a zero-waste economy in Scotland, a day-long festival in Wales, and other useful resources.

The CYCLE project has defined competencies for the circular economy as those that are key to a sustainable future, ranging from a detailed knowledge of resources and raw materials to a rich understanding of social behaviours required to create a model that works for society, the economy and the environment.

- Graham Attwell, Director of Pontydysgu, a Wales based SME and project

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