European Commission has recently adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan – one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal. With measures along the entire life cycle of products, the new Action Plan aims to make our economy fit for a green future and strengthen the competitiveness while protecting the environment. Building on the work done since 2015, the new Plan aims to ensure the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.
Right now, only 12% of secondary materials and resources are being brought back into the economy, a proof of the still present linear economy in EU. Many products break down too easily, cannot be reused, repaired or recycled, or are made for single use only. The transition towards a circular economy is already underway, with more and more subjects in Europe embracing this sustainable model. The new Circular Economy Action Plan presents measures to:
- Make sustainable products the norm in the EU. The appropriate legislation will be proposed, to ensure that products placed on the EU market are designed to last longer, are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, and incorporate as much as possible recycled material instead of primary raw material.
- Focus on the sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high. The Commission will launch actions on:
- electronics and ICT –to achieve longer product lifetimes, and improve the collection and treatment of waste
- batteries and vehicles – for enhancing the sustainability and boosting the circular potential of batteries
- packaging – new mandatory requirements on what is allowed on the EU market
- plastics – new requirements for recycled content and special attention on microplastics as well as biobased and biodegradable plastics
- textiles –to strengthen competitiveness and boost the EU market for textile reuse
- construction and buildings –to promote circularity principles for buildings
- food –to substitute single-use packaging, tableware and cutlery
- Ensure less waste. The focus will be on avoiding waste altogether and transforming it into high-quality secondary resources that benefits from a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials. The Commission will explore the possibility of setting an EU-wide, harmonized model for the separate collection of waste and labelling.
The European Green Deal, presented by the Commission in December 2019, sets an ambitious roadmap towards a climate-neutral circular economy. A circular economy reduces pressure on natural resources and is a precondition for achieving the climate-neutrality target by 2050. Half of total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from resource extraction and processing.
The circular economy will have net positive benefits in terms of GDP growth and jobs’ creation, since applying ambitious circular economy measures in Europe can increase the EU’s GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030 creating around 700,000 new jobs.