On 2nd of December, the European Commission presented a new Circular Economy Package to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, which will boost global competitiveness, foster economic growth and generate new jobs. According to the EC, the proposed actions contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and reuse, bringing benefits to both the economy and the environment.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “Our planet and our economy cannot survive if we continue with the ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach. We need to retain precious resources and fully exploit all the economic value within them. The circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works. By rethinking the way we produce, work and buy we can generate new opportunities and create new jobs. With today’s package, we are delivering the comprehensive framework that will truly enable this change to happen. It sets a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe with supportive actions that cover the full product cycle. This mix of smart regulation and incentives at EU level will help businesses and consumers, as well as national and local authorities, to drive this transformation.”
The Circular Economy Package gives a clear signal to economic operators that the EU is using all the tools available to transform its economy, opening the way to new business opportunities and boosting competitiveness. The broad measures for changing the full product lifecycle go beyond a narrow focus on the end-of-life stage and underline the Commission’s clear ambition to transform the EU economy and deliver results. Innovative and more efficient ways of producing and consuming should increasingly emerge as a result of the incentives we are putting in place. The circular economy has the potential to create many jobs in Europe, while preserving precious and increasingly scarce resources, reducing environmental impacts of resource use and injecting new value into waste products. Sectoral measures are also set out, as well as quality standards for secondary raw materials. Key actions adopted on 2nd of December or to be carried out under the current Commission’s mandate include:
- Funding of over €650 million under Horizon 2020 and €5.5 billion under the structural funds;
- Actions to reduce food wasteincluding a common measurement methodology, improved date marking, and tools to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030;
- Development of quality standards for secondary raw materialsto increase the confidence of operators in the single market;
- Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency;
- Arevised Regulation on fertilisers, to facilitate the recognition of organic and waste-based fertilisers in the single market and support the role of bio-nutrients;
- A strategy on plastics in the circular economy, addressing issues of recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the Sustainable Development Goals target for significantly reducing marine litter;
- A series of actions on water reuseincluding a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater.
Additional information is available in the EC’s press release.