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European Commission Promises More Ambitious Plans to Promote Circular Economy

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has confirmed that waste proposals set out by the former Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik will be axed.  The decision comes amongst claims that existing proposals will not deliver the results needed in their current form and that more ambitious plans are required.

The official announcement on the 16th December followed the release of the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2015 which sets out the actions the Commission intends to take over the next 12 months. 

It also follows the leakage of documents earlier in the month that suggested the Commission’s plans to scrap the current circular economy package which had set out plans for higher targets for recycling 80% of packaging waste by 2030 and plans to increase wider recycling targets to 70% by 2030.

The European Commission has said that new, more ambitious plans that promote circular economy will be put in place by the end of 2050.

The Commission’s 2015 Work Programme sets out 23 new initiatives proposed by the Juncker Commission. The Work Programme presents focused actions where the Commission aims to deliver in 2015, and the waste proposal was one of 80 existing proposals that will be withdrawn or amended as part of these plans.

This latest announcement has received mixed reviews from the sustainability sector, with many believing that the decision leaves much uncertainty over the future of circular economy and resource management in Europe.  Furthermore, many have questioned the message this gives to Europe over the importance of progressing towards a circular economy and the recognised benefits for resource efficiency, environmental protection and economic growth. 

Sector leaders from CIWM, ESA and Zero Waste Scotland have all expressed their concerns around these ‘unnecessary delays’ to implementing a circular economy package and that the Commission would have been better placed to work on and further develop existing versions.

However, some in the sector remain reassured that the Commission is still planning to bring back the circular economy proposals in a broader and more ambitious form in 2015, but what these plans will look like is yet to be known. 

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