Commission outlines circular economy proposals

29th May 2015


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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Waste ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Politics & Economics

Author

Declan Conley

A consultation to cut waste and boost reuse of raw materials was launched by the European commission yesterday, replacing a proposal that was withdrawn by EU president Jean-Claude Juncker at the beginning of the year.

The commission wants to find out what is currently blocking the development of a circular economy during the manufacture and consumption of products and identify measures that could be taken at EU level to overcome these barriers. It will also look at measures to boost resource reuse through innovation and investment.

Possible policies could cover product design to enable reuse or repair, recycling, more sustainable consumption, waste policy, use of raw materials and stronger markets for secondary raw materials, according to the consultation. There will also be proposals for specific sectors, it states.

Developing a circular economy will promote competitiveness and innovation by stimulating new business models and technologies, the commission said.

In addition to revised legislation, the commission is to publish an action plan outlining how it intends to develop a circular economy in Europe during its term in office. This plan will cover the whole supply chain of products and also tie in with other work the commission is carrying out on energy, climate change and resource efficiency, it said.

The consultation does not include proposals on waste in the food system or EU waste targets as these were covered by a consultation in 2013.

The withdrawal of the waste package drawn up by the previous commission was heavily criticised by environmental campaigners and the waste industry.

Roy Hathaway, policy advisor at waste trade body the Environmental Services Association (ESA) said: "The questionnaire certainly covers the key elements likely to feature in the circular economy package - production, consumption, the markets for secondary raw materials, key industry sectors, and circular economy enablers such as innovation and investment - but it gives very little indication of what measures the commission itself is likely to favour," he said.

Nevertheless, the consultation is an important opportunity for the waste and resource management sector to press for the measures it needs to invest in a circular economy, in particular, stable and long-term policy and markets for secondary raw materials, he said.

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