European Environment Agency calls for a circular economy


Circular Economy

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has called for a circular economy in Europe which will “considerably reduce” the negative impacts of consumption.

The EEA says unsustainable consumption in Europe and globally is one of the main drivers of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

According to two EEA briefings, efficiency gains in production have reduced some environmental impacts but are unlikely to bring Europe’s consumption to a sustainable level without a “deeper transformation” of consumption patterns.

EEA briefings “Environment and climate pressures from household consumption in Europe” and “Conditions and pathways for sustainable and circular consumption in Europe” analyse developments in Europe’s consumption volumes and look into opportunities for making household consumption more circular and sustainable.

The analysis from the EEA shows that most environmental pressures from household consumption in Europe have not changed significantly between 2000 and 2019. Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant emissions decreased but the use of land, materials and water increased or remained relatively stable, according to the analysis.

However, over the same period, household consumption in the EU increased by 26%, with around three-quarters of the expenditure being spent on food, housing and services.

The EEA briefing highlights that Europe’s current consumption trends are not sustainable as efficiency gains in the production value chain do not appear to be enough to compensate for the increasing consumption levels long term.

The briefing also outlines that reduced pressures and impacts can be achieved by shifting consumption to products and services that use fewer materials or renewable and recycled resources.

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