Commission Adopts New Circular Economy Package

circular-economy-package-eu-commissionThe European Commission has today (2 Dec) adopted a new Circular Economy Package that will mean member states will have to recycle 65% of its municipal waste by 2030. 

The aim of the Package is to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, which has the potential to boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and generate new jobs.

Prepared by a core project team co-chaired by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen with the close involvement of Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the proposed actions will contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans – “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 aims to bring benefits for both the environment and the economy and 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, €650m from Horizon 2020 (the EU funding programme for research and innovation), €5.5bn from structural funds for waste management, and investments in the circular economy at national level.

The original Package, which was axed last year to be replaced with a more “ambitious proposal”, included a 70% recycling target for municipal waste by 2030 and a 80% recycling target for packaging.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “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.”

Waste Targets

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 what the Commission calls “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 all 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 (eg, for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles).

Action Plan

The Package aims to give 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 Commission hopes that innovative and more efficient ways of producing and consuming will increasingly emerge as a result of the incentives put in place.

Key actions adopted today 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.
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Presentation of the Circular Economy Package

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: “Today we are saying that Europe is the best place to grow a sustainable and environmentally-friendly business. This transition towards a more circular economy is about reshaping the market economy and improving our competitiveness. If we can be more resource efficient and reduce our dependency on scarce raw materials, we can develop a competitive edge. The job creation potential of the circular economy is huge, and the demand for better, more efficient products and services is booming.

“We will remove barriers that make it difficult for businesses to optimise their resource use and we will boost the internal market for secondary raw materials. We want to achieve real progress on the ground and look forward to delivering on this ambition together with not only Member States, regions and municipalities, but also businesses, industry and civil society.”

The Commission is now calling on the European Parliament and Council to build on this “important preparatory work” and prioritise adoption and implementation of today’s legislative proposals.

The Package will be immediately presented in a Plenary session of the European Parliament on 2 December by First Vice-President Timmermans and Vice-President Katainen.

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