The European Commission has announced it will launch a Circular Economy Finance Support Platform to bring together investors and innovators as it publishes its report on the progression of its Circular Economy Package Action Plan.
One year after adopting its Circular Economy Package, the Commission has today (26 January) published a report on the delivery and progress of key initiatives of its 2015 circular economy Action Plan.
Together with the report, the Commission has also announced it intends to establish a Circular Economy Finance Support Platform with the European Investment Bank (EIB) bringing together investors and innovators.
It has also issued its long-awaited guidance to member states on converting waste to energy and has proposed what it calls a “targeted improvement” of legislation on certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
Circular Economy Finance Support Platform
The Circular Economy Finance Support Platform aims to enhance the link between existing instruments, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators initiative backed by Horizon 2020, and potentially develop new financial instruments for circular economy projects.
The Platform will set out to bring together the Commission, the EIB, National Promotional Banks, institutional investors and other stakeholders, raising awareness of circular economy investment opportunities and promoting best practices amongst potential promoters, analysing projects and their financial needs, and providing advice on structuring and bankability.
Energy From Waste
The communication published on the role of waste-to-energy processes in the circular economy aims to maximise the benefits of this “small but innovative” part of the national energy mix.
It sets out to provide guidance for member states to achieve the “right balance of waste-to-energy capacity”, highlighting the role of the waste hierarchy and to provide guidance to member states on how to make better use of economic instruments and capacity planning with a view to avoiding or addressing potential overcapacity in waste incineration.
It also sets out to identify the technology and processes that currently hold the greatest potential to optimise energy and material outputs, taking into account expected changes in the feedstock for waste-to-energy processes.
The package adopted by the Commission today also contains a proposal to update legislation to restrict the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS Directive).
The proposal promotes substitution of hazardous materials to make the recycling of components more profitable. The proposed changes aim to further facilitate second-hand market operations (eg, reselling) and repair of electrical and electronic equipment.
It is estimated that the measures will prevent more than 3000 tonnes of hazardous waste per year in the EU, and enable savings of energy and raw materials. In the health sector alone, an estimated EUR 170m in healthcare costs could be saved.
Circular Economy Action Plan Update
In its report on progress since last year, the Commission listed the key measures taken in areas such as waste, ecodesign, food waste, organic fertilisers, guarantees for consumer goods, and innovation and investment.
Circular economy principles have been gradually integrated in industrial best practices, green public procurement, the use of cohesion policy funds, and through new initiatives in the construction and water sectors, it says.
“Building a circular economy for Europe is a key priority for this Commission. We have made good progress and are planning new initiatives in 2017. We are closing the loop of design, production, consumption, and waste management, thereby creating a green, circular and competitive Europe.”
To make the transition to the circular economy happen on the ground, the Commission is calling on the European Parliament and Council to progress with the adoption of the waste legislation proposals, in line with the Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2017.
In the coming year, the Commission says it is committed to delivering further on the Circular Economy Action Plan, with a strategy on plastics, a monitoring framework for the circular economy and a proposal for promoting water reuse.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “Building a circular economy for Europe is a key priority for this Commission. We have made good progress and are planning new initiatives in 2017. We are closing the loop of design, production, consumption, and waste management, thereby creating a green, circular and competitive Europe.”
EIB Vice President Jonathan Taylor, responsible for financing environment, climate action and circular economy, said: “The EIB is pleased to join forces with the European Commission and use our combined financial firepower and expertise to make our economies more circular.
“As the world’s largest multilateral climate action lender with over EUR 19 billion of dedicated financing last year, we see the circular economy as key to reversing the course of climate change, making more sustainable use of our planet’s scarce resources, and contributing to Europe’s growth.
“To accelerate this transition, we will continue to advise and invest increasingly in innovative circular business models and new technologies as well as in more traditional resource efficiency projects. The new Circular Economy Finance Support Platform will be an essential tool to boost awareness and financing of circular economy projects.”