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EU launches consultation on circular economy

May 29, 2015

eu flagThe European Commission (EC) has released a 12-week public consultation on its “ambitious new approach” to a circular economy.

Letsrecycle reported on the launch by the EC of the 12-week public consultation on “the main policy options which […] will feed into the development” of an “ambitious new approach” to the circular economy. The EC revealed in January that it would ditch its circular economy package despite objections from the EU parliament and environment ministers; with sources stating that “the final decision has been taken and nothing could be foreseen that would change the executive’s mind at this stage”.

However, earlier this month the Commission “promis[ed] a better and even more environmentally-friendly alternative proposal”, to come later this year, aiming to deliver “a clear and ambitious political vision combined with effective policy tools [to] drive real change”. The new roadmap document was said by the EC to have a “broader and more ambitious approach” than the first, but Resource noted it “does not outline specific details of how the revised package will work”.

The consultation will see stakeholder views “put towards the preparation of a revised proposal on the waste review” as well as a “new action plan for a ‘competitive’ circular economy”, expected before the end of the year. Policy options will study waste policy, product lifecycles, intelligent product design, reuse and repair, recycling, sustainable consumption, recycling levels and “smart use of raw materials”. A “broad spectrum” of options will be looked at to identify “areas for priority action”.

The consultation will take place until 20 August 2015 and the public, authorities, businesses and “governmental and non-governmental parties” will contribute, alongside a stakeholder conference in Brussels on 25 June. The new proposals being drawn up are being led by Commission Vice Presidents Frans Timmermans and Jyrki Katainen alongside Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Commissioner El?bieta Bie?kowska, responsible for industry and small businesses.

Timmermans stated: “Europe’s future economic development must be part of a sustainable development. There is no alternative to using our resources more intelligently, designing our products with a view to their re-use and recycling, and setting ambitious targets for waste reduction and recycling.

“Today we are asking people across Europe for their input on how to design our policies in a way that stimulates a competitive green economy in Europe and protects the environment for future generations.”

Katainen added: “Moving towards a more sustainable circular economy can create win-win solutions and provide Europe with a new competitive advantage. We want to put forward a comprehensive action plan with incentives for both consumers and businesses to use resources more efficiently. For this we need input from stakeholders in all parts of the value chains.”

Oakdene Hollins, which operates the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse and is leading the EC’s European Remanufacturing Network, discussed the policies and changes it would like the EU to consider, as did industry association ETIRA, which revealed that it is “doing informal lobbying to promote reuse” with the commission. The association argues that “reuse should receive a higher priority than it has today” and that existing “eco-friendly policies are often merely a piece of paper: they fail to deliver a tangible increase in the reuse of products”.

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