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European support for a circular economy action plan

Recently, the EU Ministers of Environment gave broad support to the action plan for a circular economy, which was presented by the European Commission in December 2015. Besides, the EU Ministers responsible for Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space) discussed the circular economy package. The outcome of both meetings will be the input for the Environmental Council in June 2016.

​What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while we use it, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. A circular economy will reduce waste, drive greater resource productivity and will help reduce the environmental impacts of our product and consumption.

(Source: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/wrap-and-circular-economy)

Please find below a summary of the outcome of both EU meetings:

  • The EU and the national governments have to work closely with the industry and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) to move ahead with the circular economy.
  • The plan focuses on all stages in the lifecycle of a product, not only on waste. This will effectively close the entire chain. A properly functioning market for secondary raw materials is essential. Measures to improve eco-design, durability, reparability and recyclability are considered as a priority. In order to accomplish this, adjusting the legislation is of great importance.
  • There is a need for coherent legislation to stimulate innovation. The financial support for investing in innovation and the synergy with other policy areas, such as water, are identified as important.
  • Circular thinking must be an integral part of the European policy and the circular economy package should be integrated in the regular policy.
  • The regulatory burden that comes from the circular economy package should remain within the boundaries of the European industry. Circular economy must not create excessive administrative burdens.
  • Achieving a resource efficient economy with potential significant benefits for business, consumers and the protection of the environment is of great importance.

I believe that if European environmental regulations would be applied in a uniform way in all Member States, this already could be a great help to achieve benefits and to reduce administrative burden for businesses.

Source: Reports of the outcome of the Environment Council and the Competitiveness Council.

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