Closing the loop: The EU’s new Circular Economy Package released
Today the European Commission adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Package 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 current linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model for resource use cannot be sustained, and because of this resource efficiency and circularity in resource use has become a hot topic amongst sustainability professionals.
To meet the challenge for more circularity in the way we use materials, the EU has released their long awaited Circular Economy Package with the ambition to boost Europe’s global competitiveness, foster economic growth and generate new jobs through better, more efficient resource use.
What’s in the new package?
The package contains revised legislative proposals for waste along with a comprehensive action plan on the Circular Economy. Below is a summary of the new proposal:
Action plan on the Circular Economy
- Common measurement methodology for food waste, helping meet Sustainable Development Goals to halve food waste by 2030
- Development of quality standards for secondary raw materials, relating to waste which is no longer classed as a waste this is vital to increasing operator confidence in this space
- Ecodesign work plan, because life cycle circularity starts with well designed products
- Strategy on plastics, important in order to meet Sustainable Development Goals for marine litter, and tackling challenges of biodegradbility, hazardous chemicals use and wider impact on the environment
- Revised regulation on fertilisers, in order to recognise the role played by organic and waste-based fertilisers
- Significant funding commitment, key to developing technology and infrastructure for the circular economy
Revised proposals on waste legislation
- Target for 65% recycling of municiple waste by 2030
- Target for 75% recycling of packaging waste by 2030
- Reduce landfill to 10% of all waste generated by 2030 and a ban on landfilling separately collected waste
- Measures to promote reuse and industrial symbiosis, Industrial symbiosis turns one industries by-product into another's raw material. A well-quoted example of this is Kalundborg, Denmark
- Green product incentives and economic instruments to discourage landfilling
What does it mean for companies?
Going forward, it is of growing importance that all companies develop strategies for waste management including specific targets relating to waste categories such as packaging waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). For manufacturers, circularity in resource use starts with effective eco-design principles so that products are designed not only for resource efficiency through life, but that they last longer, can be reused more easily or have a well-designed recycling route in place.
Further information on the new Circular Economy Package can be found on the European Commission’s website.