3 questions to Dominique Bourg

Published on 27 June 2018

Dominique Bourg is a philosopher and professor at Lausanne University. He co-directed, with Alain Papaux, the Dictionary of Ecological Thought (Puf), and pilots the collection “Ecology in questions” as well as the online magazine “Ecological thought”. He is also vice-president of the “Fondation pour la nature et l’homme” (FNH).

He presented at the Chair Friday Lunch Meeting, on June 1st, his book co-authored with Christian Arnsperger ” Ecologie intégrale : Pour une société permacirculaire “.

How can be measured the circularity of an economy? 

Ideally a circular economy would be an economy without extractive and mining activities, and thus without the consumption of non-renewable resources. Which implies that the other criteria are satisfied.

Circular economy being a multi-criteria area, how can we ensure that the issues are not limited to recycling?

Even an economy recycling 100% of the metal resources consumed (which is impossible) would not be circular. A growing economy would continue to demand the completion of the recycled portion of new resources extracted from the ground. Moreover, the ultimate criterion being the insertion within the framework of the planetary limits, and the respect of the limits of capacities of load of the planet (ecological footprint 1 planet), the circular economy must be understood as a dynamics in the long run of return to the safe space of planetary boundaries. 

The government just published its roadmap. What do you think about this initiative? 

The roadmap contains some small steps in the right direction, but in no way the beginning of a change from our economies toward circularity. Examples of slight advances: “incorporate more raw materials from recycling in products while ensuring their quality, traceability and real security for citizens: Promote, by the summer  2018, create concrete and significant voluntary commitments aimed at organizing a sectoral ambition, including targets for plastic material integration from waste in the following sectors: packaging, building, car or electronic and electrical equipment” ; or: “To make the prevention and waste recovery less costly in the framework of the public waste management service, reduce the VAT rate to 5.5% for prevention, curbside recycling, sorting, waste recovery. This reduction will also cover the acquisition of biodegradable and compostable bags in compliance with the standards in force for the curbside recycling of bio-waste and the acquisition of technical solutions for local composting; Lead, within the framework of the national conference of the territories*, a consultation on the project of increase of the tariffs of the component “waste” of the TGAP** and its modalities.”. 

*semestral conference between local and central authorities

** General tax on polluant activities