Commission unveils circular economy package

2nd December 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Electronics ,
  • Engineering and metals ,
  • Food and drink



The European commission has announced its long-awaited circular economy package, claiming it will close the loop of product lifecycles, boost competitiveness, foster sustainable growth and generate new jobs.

The new proposals cover the full lifecycle of products and materials, from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw material. They include:

  • a common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste and 75% of packaging waste by 2030;
  • a binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030;
  • a ban on landfilling of separately collected waste;
  • measures to promote reuse and stimulate industrial symbiosis; and
  • ecodesign measures to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency.

The commission controversially scrapped the previous administration's circular economy plans last year, promising a more ambitious set of provisions. Launching the new package, commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans said: "We need to retain precious resources and fully exploit all the economic value within them. With today's package, we are delivering the comprehensive framework that will truly enable this change to happen.

"It sets a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe with supportive actions that cover the full product cycle," he said.

Proposals to incorporate the full product lifecycle have been broadly welcomed by industry. Peter Gerstrom, chair of waste trade body, the Environmental Services Association, said: "The overall direction of travel seems right; better product design, more re-use and recycling, and less landfill."

But he warned that more needed to be done to address the demand side of the cycle. "Markets for secondary raw materials are currently weak, with little or no sign of recovery. Without sustainable markets for these materials it will be very difficult to deliver the commission's vision of higher recycling rates and a more circular economy."

Analysis by environment think tank Green Alliance showed that developing the reuse, remanufacturing and recycling industries delivers significant social as well as environmental dividends.

Comparing the new proposals with the EU's earlier package, Dustin Benton, head of energy and resources, said: "The commission's package is a good start, but has big gaps. It's worse on waste and recycling targets, but has the potential to deliver step change in the valuable 'inner loops' of the circular economy - reuse and remanufacturing. The onus is now on the EU parliament and council to help it deliver on these opportunities."

Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group, welcomed the proposals. "All the businesses we work with are already innovating to find new ways to be more resource efficient and competitive but a strong circular economy package could help them go much further by removing barriers and introducing smart incentives," he said.

The new circular economy is accompanied by funding, including €650 million from Horizon 2020 (the EU programme for research and innovation) and €5.5 billion from structural funds for waste management, plus additional investments in the circular economy at national level.

Conservative MEP, Julie Girling, a lead in the negotiations on the circular economy package, said she was pleased to see that EU funds were being allocated to support the programme. "It's a key [initiative] and needs to be ambitious so we can tackle the transition to a more sustainable future, while stimulating EU jobs and economic growth.

"There has been quite a delay since the discussions a year ago on withdrawal [and] it's now time to get to work on this," she said.

The commission is now calling on the European parliament and council to adopt and implement its legislative proposals.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Weather damage insurance claims hit record high

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

Around 20% of the plastic recycled is polypropylene, but the diversity of products it protects has prevented safe reprocessing back into food packaging. Until now. David Burrows reports

3rd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close