The policy path towards a circular economy

 

The Green Deal is the EU’s new growth strategy: The European Green Deal is about improving the well-being of people. Making Europe climate-neutral and protecting our natural habitat will benefit the people, planet and prosperity. The EU Green Deal includes an external dimension guiding EU cooperation with partner countries. Created with a long-term vision (2020-2050), the European
Green Deal establishes a set of proposals to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution. Discover the proposals below.

The Circular Economy Action Plan

The 2020 Circular Action Plan (CEAP 2) focuses on the design, promoting circular economy processes, and fostering sustainable consumption, to ensure that the resources used are kept in the EU for as long as possible. It targets how products are designed, promotes circular economy processes, encourages sustainable consumption, and aims to ensure that waste is prevented and the resources used are kept in the economy for as long as possible. Building on the work done on circular economy since 2015, the CEAP II focuses on resource intensive sectors where the potential for circularity is high. Aiming to keep resources in economic cycles as long as possible, the plan addresses key product value chains: electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles and food.

EU Policies for a Circular Economy

With the New Industrial Strategy for Europe, the European Commission has set the groundwork for delivering the twin transition to a green and digital economy, to enhance the competitiveness of EU industry globally, and to strengthen Europe’s open strategic autonomy.

The strategy puts forward actions based on the following three pillars:
-> Capacity-building and support for the transition to sustainability and
digitalisation;
-> Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access; and
-> Improving access to financing.

Actions under the EU Green Deal as specified in the Farm to Fork Strategy aim at:

  • -> Reducing the environmental and climate footprint of the food system and strengthening its resilience,

-> Ensuring  food  security  in  the  face  of  climate  change  and  biodiversity  loss,
-> Leading  a  global transition towards competitive sustainability from farm to fork.

The construction, use and renovation of buildings require significant amounts of energy and resources, such as sand, gravel and cement.  Buildings account for40% of energy consumed. Key elements of the EU-Renovation Wave include:

  • • Develop innovative financing possibilities
  • • Promote energy efficiency investments in buildings 
  • • Pool renovation efforts into large blocks to benefit from economies of scale
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  • In April 2022, the EC adopted the revised Construction Products Regulation.
  • Key objectives of the new rules:

    • Key objectives of the new rules:

      • Improve the functioning of the internal market for
      construction products and respond to Member States’ regulatory needs, by
      addressing shortcomings in the current rules.

      • Enhance the sustainability of construction products and
      contribute to the objectives of the green and digital transition of our
      economy.

      • Introduce product requirements for construction products
      to improve the protection of health, safety and the environment, in line with
      new Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulation

The EU Climate Law sets the long-term direction of travel for meeting the 2050
climate-neutrality objective through all policies, in a socially-fair and cost-efficient manner.

Among others the EU Climate Law includes:

  • •  a legal objective for the Union to reach climate neutrality by 2050
  • •  an ambitious 2030 climate target of at least 55% reduction of net
    emissions of greenhouse gases as compared to 1990, with clarity on the
    contribution of emission reductions and removals
  • •  a recognition of the need to enhance the EU’s carbon sink through a more ambitious LULUCF regulation, for which the Commission made a proposal in July 2021
  • •  a process for setting a 2040 climate target, taking into account an
    indicative greenhouse gas budget for 2030-2050 to be published by the
    Commission
  • •  a commitment to negative emissions after 2050
  • The Zero Pollution Action Plan provides a compass to mainstream pollution prevention in all relevant EU policies, to step up implementation of the relevant EU legislation and to identify possible gaps. It includes targets on air, water, soil, and noise pollutions as well as waste generation and biodiversity.
  •  

Entry points to reduce pollution and boost circular approaches include:

  • • Product and eco-design
  • • Material selection
  • • Funding and investment to boost eco-deisgn
  • • Sustainable souring
  • • New business models
  • • Standards

To develop a sustainable and competitive battery industry across Europe, the EU Battery Strategy proposes that batteries in the future should

• be produced by using responsibly sourced materials with restricted use of hazardous substances
•  be produced with a certain minimum content of recycled materials meet collection and recycling targets, have a clear carbon footprint declaration
• be easily replaceable to build long-lasting systems have clear labeling to openly share needed information

The Regulation on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products addresses product design, which determines up to 80% of a product’s lifecycle environmental impact.

  • • It sets new requirements to make products more durable, reliable, reusable, upgradable, reparable, easier to maintain, refurbish and recycle, and energy and resource efficient.
  • • In addition, product-specific information requirements will ensure consumers know the environmental impacts of their purchases. 
  • • All regulated products will have Digital Product Passports. This will make it easier to repair or recycle products and facilitate tracking substances of concern along the supply chain.
  • • Labelling can be introduced as well.
  • • The proposal also contains measures to end the destruction of unsold consumer goods, as well as expand green public procurement and provide incentives for sustainable products.

The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles sets out the vision and concrete actions to ensure that by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market are long-lived and recyclable, made as much as possible of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment.

The specific measures will include

  • • ecodesign requirements for textiles, clearer information,
  • a Digital Product Passport, mandatory EU extended producer responsibility scheme,
  • •  measures to tackle the unintentional release of microplastics
    from textiles,
  • • measures to ensure the accuracy of green claims, and boost circular
    business models, including reuse and repair services.

 

  • The updated Consumer Rights Directive aims to ensure consumers get adequate information on products’ durability and reparability before purchasing a product. it will empower consumers to make informed and environment-friendly choices.

 

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