White Paper: revising WFD vital to achieve European circular economy

reimagining material use

White Paper finds that rewiring relationship with resources through the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) is “vital” for the EU to achieve a circular economy by 2040.

The White Paper, published by Handles Miljøfond, Minderoo Foundation, TOMRA and Zero Waste Europe, outlines the “urgent steps” it states are required to ensure the EU remains on track to create a sustainable future.

Developed by Eunomia Research & Consulting, the White Paper sets out a vision for 2040 where society will use materials and products more efficiently in an economy that is well on its way to circularity.

Eunomia says the upcoming revision of the WFD offers the opportunity to design a coherent and consistent policy framework for a circular economy, however, the scope of the revision is not currently sufficient to set the EU on the “right course”.

In a circular economy, consumers will reap the benefits of higher-quality products that last longer.

The White Paper proposes a short-term revision of the WFD (by 2026) to provide:

  • Softer regulation for the reuse, repair and remanufacturing of products, as well as clarity for industry on the environmental performance required of reuse systems.
  • Greater consistency in the scope and application of extended producer responsibility (EPR) and a more granular recycling hierarchy that characterises “high quality” recycling.
  • A supportive environment for rapidly decarbonising the treatment and disposal of waste.

Commenting on the White Paper, Cecilie Lind, CEO of Handelens Miljøfond, said: “This White Paper demonstrates the urgency of rethinking our approach to materials and waste policy in order to build a sustainable and circular economy by 2040, and the revision of the Waste Framework Directive is a critical step in achieving that goal.”

Eunomia says that the WFD needs to be transformed into a “Resources Framework Directive” by 2029, which would extend its scope to include the reduction of resource consumption to introduce a materials application hierarchy to maximise decarbonisation.

Dr Marcus Gover, who leads a team of scientists and policy experts at Minderoo Foundation, commented: “In a circular economy, consumers will reap the benefits of higher-quality products that last longer while at the same time reducing the harmful impacts materials like plastics, especially microplastics in clothing and tyres, have on our environment.”

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