News Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing

The Department of the Environment and the University of the Basque Country organise the first State Postgraduate in Industrial Circular Economy

2019 May 28
  • The enrolment period is already open for the 2019-2020 course at the Faculty of Engineering in Bilbao and at the Faculty of Economics and Business 
  • A total of 30 students will gain skills and will become better equipped to meet industry demand for qualified candidates in this new area 
  • It is expected that around 3,000 new jobs will be created in the circular economy field in the Basque Country by the year 2030 
  • Use of innovative, more circular measures by Basque Industry will lead to potential average savings of 6% on raw material consumption, worth around €2,000 million 


This morning, Deputy Minister for the Environment of the Basque Government Elena Moreno and Vice Rector for Basque Language and Continued Education at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) Jon Zarate announced the first State post-graduate course on the Circular Economy with an industrial focus for the 2019-2020 academic year at the Faculty of Engineering in Bilbao and at the Faculty of Economics and Business.

The post-graduate course, which will be entitled “Circular Economy: application in business”, will give students a specialised university qualification in accordance with a UPV/EHU study curriculum. With a blended attendance format, the course will take place between October 2019 and April 2020 in collaboration with Public Society of Environmental Management of the Basque Government Ihobe and the Basque Ecodesign Centre. There are 30 places and the enrolment period has already begun.

“We have been collaborating with the UPV/EHU on practical training for students for more than 15 years, however, during the interactive process of devising the Circular Economy Strategy for Euskadi 2030, currently underway, we have received numerous requests for higher education focused on the circular economy that will position the Basque Country among the pioneers when it comes to higher education on the subject”, explained Deputy Minister Elena Moreno.

Moreno also talked about the lack of post-university training available in this field. “We have only found similar specialised courses in two universities, one in Finland and the other in the United Kingdom, which is why the Department of the Environment of the Basque Government and the UPV/EHU have decided to join forces and sponsor training in the circular economy through this post-graduate course, with a clear focus on industrial companies”.

This will enable us to cover the existing industry demand for candidates with qualifications in these areas. The European Union expects the circular economy to generate more than 580,000 direct jobs between now and 2030, and in the Basque Country, the goal specified in the new Circular Economy Strategy is to create 3,000 new jobs in this sphere by the year 2030.

In the meantime, Vice Rector for Basque Language and Continued Education at the University of the Basque Country Jon Zarate says that “another aspect that makes this postgraduate training so special is the transdisciplinary nature of lecturers, who have been selected from industry as well as the university. The variety of viewpoints will be very useful and will encourage research and innovation transfer from the university to industry, and vice-versa”.


Improved skills

This postgraduate course is aimed primarily at graduates and workers in the fields of Engineering, Economics and Business Management, although given the multidisciplinary nature of the circular economy it is open to anyone with a degree, diploma or grade. It will add valuable professional skills and quality participants to fill the extensive range of positions that are emerging in the sustainable business and production areas.

Students completing this postgraduate course will develop skills to identify the value of the circular economy to create more effective materials cycles for companies, to design and implement a collaborative economy and to provide entrepreneurs with business models based on the circular economy. Focusing on preserving the value of products and materials for as long as possible, reducing waste to a minimum and transforming it into resources for reintroduction in the productive cycle, over and again, creating value when goods reach the end of their useful life.

The curriculum consists of 9 modules which cover ecodesign and circular economy; eco-innovation as a business opportunity; circular economy in the company; context and general aspects of the circular economy; environmental management tools in the company; environmental impacts derived from the production and consumption of products and services; description of circular economy cases; life cycle analysis: tools for calculation and communication; and quantification of the environmental footprint of the product. The programme also includes a presentation of research by participating students before obtaining the qualification.

The Basque Autonomous Region is home to a growing number of companies that are applying circular practices and models (ecodesign, servitization, remanufacturing, life cycle analysis, environmental declarations, etc.), in diverse sectors like automation, transport, electrical and electronic equipment, machinery-tools, metal, chemicals, furniture, buildings and the environmental services subsector.

Specific examples of companies which are interested in this subject are Orona, EDP Energía, Cie Automotive, Gamesa, Iberdrola, Ormazabal Velatia, Vicinay Cadenas, Euskaltel and Eroski; all of which are supporting this post-graduate degree through the Basque Ecodesign Center.


Circular economy in the Basque Country

The Basque Country has been successfully working on aspects of the circular economy for years. Since 2000, the Basque economy has grown by 26% while materials consumption has fallen by 25% and the volume of urban waste ending up in landfills has been reduced by 56%. This is known as “eco-economic decoupling”, in other words, economic growth with lower resource consumption.

Therefore, the industrial sector in the Basque Country is expected to lay the foundations on which the transformation to a more circular economy will be built. Industry contributes almost 25% to GDP and is the most intensive sector in terms of consumption of materials (most of which are imported) and waste generation. According to the report entitled “Diagnosis of the Circular Economy in Basque Country Industry 2018” published by the Basque Government, there is room for improvement in significant competitive factors such as, for example, the cost of raw materials, which accounts for 61% of total expenditure for Basque enterprises.

If innovative and more circular solutions are implemented, potential savings of up to 6% are possible in raw materials consumption, meaning savings of more than €2,000 million for Basque industry. The metallurgy sectors (iron and steel, smelting, metal products) and mobility (automotive, aeronautics) would benefit from half of all potential savings achievable by Basque industry.

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Politicians attending the event
(XI term 2016 - 2020)
Other guests
  • Jon Zarate, Rikardo Minguez, Estibaliz Sáez de Cámara