Research database

RETRACE - A Systemic Approach for Regions Transitioning towards a Circular Economy

12 months (2021 - 2022)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
UE-funded research - Cooperazione Territoriale Europea
Funding body:
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


The project focuses on additional activities of the Interreg Europe project RETRACE (2016-2020), and it aims to address regions' recovery strategies from the COVID-19 pandemic to boost innovative circular strategies to build back more resilient EU regions. The outcomes of the RETRACE action plans (Policy strategies, Call for proposals, Pilot project implementation, Training and education actions) aimed to address the CE Policy Gaps (PGs) identified as common to all the partner regions: 1. Support collaboration between sectors 2. Raise and knowledge of operators concerning CE 3. Policy regulations on CE 4. Tailored policy measures on CE 5. Policy in support of business and market development for CE activities 6. Policy focused on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and micro-manufacturing These common PGs come from a project matrix that involved a cross-cutting approach between Good Practices (GPs) and region-specific shortcomings. Such an exchange of experience enabled a clear overview of the cross-cutting PGs that hampered the involved regions on their way towards a CE. Nowadays, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the PGs highlighted during RETRACE? Did it worsen or improve them? To address these questions, the RETRACE consortium aims to assess the current state of PGs in all the partner regions (Piedmont (IT), Biscay (ES), Nouvelle Aquitaine (FR), North-East (RO), Slovenia (SL)): the main goal is to reactivate an exchange of experience process that identifies new GPs that were generated in this accelerated innovation process that the COVID-19 has promoted. These new GPs must address the current state of the art of the previously stated PGs. Therefore, the additional activities of the RETRACE project will consist of four steps: a) State of art on Policy gaps on COVID-19. Each region analyses how the COVID-19 pandemic worsened/improved the policy gaps highlighted during the RETRACE project. b) Good practices facing policy gaps during COVID-19. Each region assesses the GPs of CE that emerged during the pandemic and supported the regional economy to better address the PGs. c) Virtual Exchange of Experience. Each region chooses a PG to further investigate, collecting the related GPs from other regions and looking for new inter-regional GPs. Then each region organises a virtual exchange of experience (online webinar) on the addressed PG, building on the results of the previous step. Regional policy-makers will be the main target of these events. d) Symposium on Policy Strategies for CE in the post-COVID regions. On completion of the project, the partnership will organise a closing event where experts from the partner regions and other EU regions will discuss the topic of the circular economy in the post-pandemic setting with regional policymakers and stakeholders. The outcomes of this extension of RETRACE project aim to update the project results on the current erratic scenario of COVID-19. This exchange of experiences will provide more tools for the partner regions to deliver innovative approaches to circularity amid challenging circumstances. Practical recommendations will support the different regions on the use of recovery funds towards a ‘circular economic recovery’. Also, it will showcase an overview of the innovative environment for the CE that the COVID-19 phenomenon brewed. Overall, the expected results will provide regional policy-makers with new tools to improve policy instruments in the post-pandemic era.

People involved



  • Association Pour l’Environnement et la Sécurité en Aquitaine - APESA
  • École Superiéure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées - ESTIA
  • North-East Regional Development Agency


ERC sectors

SH2_1 - Political systems, governance
PE8_11 - Sustainable design (for recycling, for environment, eco-design)
SH2_7 - Environmental and climate change, societal impact and policy

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 12. Garantire modelli sostenibili di produzione e di consumo


Total cost: € 263,200.00
Total contribution: € 214,200.00
PoliTo total cost: € 86,830.00
PoliTo contribution: € 73,805.50