On 27 February, the REUSE consortium composed of DB, Infrabel, ProRail, RFI, SNCB, SNCF Réseau met to officially launch a two-year project called REUSE.
This meeting gave Jerzy Wisniewski, Director of the Fundamental Values Department, the opportunity to remind the participants of the international context in which this project was successfully submitted for opt-in by UIC members.
He underlined that the REUSE project is very important for UIC as it marks the opening of an era of sound resources and raw materials management in the railways, dedicated to implement the principles of the circular economy “Maintain, reuse, repair, recycle” to railway infrastructures.
Mineral and water resources, if they are not adequately managed and preserved will very soon become scarcer and costlier, hence posing difficult challenges to our businesses. Nevertheless, needs remain high: Indeed in 2017, 90 billion tons of raw materials were used worldwide, accounting for more than three times than what was used in the 1970s. And this figure is expected to double by 2050.
This is why UIC members have decided to undertake a review of this issue, as circularity is increasingly brought to the forefront by non-financial rating agencies as a key performance indicator for businesses willing to issue green bonds, or in their campaigns to raise green funds.
Also, with the UIC commitment to comply with the Low Carbon Rail Transport Challenge signed by no fewer than 200 CEOs of UIC Members ahead of the UN Climate Summit of 2014, and with the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, UIC has thus more than just a moral obligation in helping its members becoming as green as possible as soon as possible.
Circularity will therefore help the rail transport sector achieve the goals of Sustainable Development Goal 9 “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”, of Sustainable Development Goal 11 “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, of SDG 12 “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, just to name a few.
Mr Wisniewski concluded by saying “as difficult as this task may seem, by looking at the half-full glass the circularity challenge can however be considered as an opportunity not to be missed to:
- Reduce our global dependency on resources,
- Reduce the GHG emissions resulting from the extraction and processing of those resources, and
- Substantially decrease the associated costs.”
This first meeting allowed experts attending the meeting to present the state-of-the-art regarding management of resources and circular economy in their respective companies.
This first round of exchange then led to interesting discussions on the project scope and outcome and opened other perspectives than those considered initially. Resources retained for the study were ballast, steel, concrete and wood. The project’s final outcome will be guidelines or other dissemination tools.
Participants were satisfied to be offered a forum to exchange on their practices and issues pertaining to circularity. Before the meeting was closed, the working group decided to meet again in April in Brussels.