EU Commission Launches Consultation on Circular Economy

Friday, May 29, 2015

The European Commission has opened a 12-week public consultation on the main policy options for developing an “ambitious new approach” on the circular economy. 

According to the Commission, stakeholder’s views will be used to help prepare a revised proposal on waste policy and a new action plan for a competitive circular economy.

The new policy options will reportedly look at waste policy and “beyond” and address the full product lifecycle.  This will include actions on intelligent product design, reuse and repair of products, recycling, sustainable consumption, recycling levels, smart use of raw materials, stronger markets for secondary raw materials and “specific sectorial measures”.

A Roadmap document that accompanies the consultation does not specify the main policy options, but states that a “broad spectrum of policy options” – including legislative, non-legislative and financial instruments – will be assessed with a view to “identifying areas for priority action”.

The consultation comes following the axe of initial proposals that were drawn up in the summer of 2014.  These proposals included the adoption of a 70% recycling target for municipal waste and an 80% by 2030 reuse and recycling target for 2030.  Individual targets for packaging streams were also laid out, including paper and cardboard and plastic packaging set at 90% and 60% by 2025 respectively. 

However, these plans were officially scrapped by the European Commission in December 2014, with promises of a “more ambitious plan” to be introduced by the end of 2015.  Subsequent announcements have also revealed that many of the original plans, including the high recycling targets, will be retained within the new proposals.  

Of the consultation, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Europe’s future economic development must be part of a sustainable development. There is no alternative to using our resources more intelligently, designing our products with a view to their re-use and recycling, and setting ambitious targets for waste reduction and recycling.  Today we are asking people across Europe for their input on how to design our policies in a way that stimulates a competitive green economy in Europe and protects the environment for future generations.”

Citizens, public authorities, businesses and all other interested governmental and non-governmental parties are invited to answer questions on the various parts of the economic cycle and their role in the transition to a circular economy.  The Commission will also host a stakeholders’ conference in Brussels on the 25th June 2015 which it says will feed into the consultation process.

The consultation will run until 20th August 2015 and can be accessed here.

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