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Closing the Loop:

The Circular Economy Package

Wastewater treatment plant in Wrocław, Poland

IMAGE: Mariusz Szczygieł

On the 2nd December 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Package to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy which will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

The new Circular Economy Package is set to help European businesses and consumers to make the transition to a stronger and more circular economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way. The proposed actions will contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. The plans will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing Green House Gas emissions. The proposals cover the full lifecycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. This transition will be supported financially by ESIF funding, €650 million from Horizon 2020 (the EU funding programme for research and innovation), €5.5 billion from structural funds for waste management, and investments in the circular economy at national level.

 

The Package contributes to the Commission’s political priorities by tackling climate change and the environment while boosting job creation, economic growth, investment and social fairness.

 

An EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy

 

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 already adopted 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 waste including 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 materials to increase the confidence of operators in the single market;

  • Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency;

  • A revised 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 reuse including a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater.

 

 

Revised Legislative Proposals on Waste

 

The revised legislative proposal on waste sets clear targets for reduction of waste and establishes an ambitious and credible long-term path for waste management and recycling. To ensure effective implementation, the waste reduction targets in the new proposal are accompanied by concrete measures to address obstacles on the ground and the different situations across Member States. Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:

 

 

  • A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030;

  • A common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030;

  • A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of municipal waste by 2030;

  • A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste;

  • Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling;

  • Simplified and improved definitions and harmonised calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU;

  • Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis –turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material;

  • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles).

 

 

 

For more information please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/

 

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