The EU’s New Circular Economy

The Action Plan titled “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030” presented by the EU Commission on the future EU circular economy, which will be gradually denatured over the next two years, includes many measures at both pan-European and member-country level.

We could describe some of these planned plans to make it more understandable as to where the actions and public expenditure of the EU member-countries will be directed in the future.

by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis

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EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan
Photo by the website of EU

The proposed measures for the transition to the EU circular economy

1. One of the main objectives of the Action Plan are that all product packaging is recyclable but also reusable. A target that should be completed by 2030.

2. Mandatory and homogeneous specifications for all products entering EU markets. In addition, product design should follow specific specifications in order to achieve an 80% reduction in their environmental footprint.

3. Selection of uniform standards for all types of municipal waste sorting systems throughout the EU, so that each member country follows a common and uniform system.

4. Incentives will be provided for product manufacturers to use an increasing proportion of recyclable plastic in their products. The main industries that will make direct use of these specifications that deal with are packaging production, construction, automotive, maritime shipping, etc. The aim is to drastically limit the use of small plastics in products.

5. Increase of actions in a variety of products such as furniture, fabrics, construction materials, etc. and other than the electronic devices that have hitherto been in force, which products will be required to obtain certification as to the ecological nature of the raw materials used for production. In this way, the EU Commission hopes to significantly increase the proportion of products belonging to the so-called EU circular economy.

6. A Special category is electronic products for which the Commission intends to impose new measures which, among other things, will create a pan-European system for their return and recycling. In addition, incentives will be created so that electronics manufactures can manufacture them with a longer lifespan.

In addition, these electronic products should be able to upgrade to both hardware and software, so that their users do not have the incentive to replace them in a relatively short period of time while keeping them in use for more years.

7. The same actions- measures in terms of ecological certification and recycling will be carried out in the textile and clothing industry in order to create new types of fabrics that their technology will enable them to be more resilient and they are made from raw materials that will be the most environmentally friendly.

8. In addition, the new buildings and houses to be built on European soil will be compulsory to use recycled building materials in their construction. In this way the new buildings will be increasingly energy autonomous using less energy consumption.

9. A very large basis is given by the EU Commission in order to achieve a complete change in the whole food chain from their production to consumption. The aim is to minimize the waste of food purchased but not fully consumed. 

10. The Commission intends to impose measures for the recovery and recycling of materials from products using materials from rare earths.

The biggest changes and actions to take part will be made in legislative initiatives of the member countries which should be completed within a period of two years (2020-2021).

The real benefits of the circular economy

The transition to a circular economy, including the circular bioeconomy, is a huge opportunity to create competitive advantages on a sustainable basis.

The application of the principles of the circular economy in all sectors and industries and always based on the Commission Document “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030”, to generate a net economic benefit of €1.8trillion by 2030, creating more than 1m jobs in the EU and play a central role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

None of this, however, will be achieved if the European citizen-consumer is unable to have full, clear and accurate information when purchasing any product that the new circular economy of the EU promises to provide.

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