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MEPs Set Out Demands for the Circular Economy Package

Monday, June 22, 2015

Environment MEPs have set out their chief demands within a new resolution passed on the 17th June that aims to call on the European Commission to table new legislation on the circular economy by the end of 2015.

The resolution, which includes binding waste-reduction targets, revamped ecodesign legislation and measures to break the link between growth and the use of natural resources, follows up the Commission communications on a circular economy package, tabled jointly with a legislative proposal on waste which was withdrawn a couple of months later.

The environment committee has called on the European Commission to table a new proposal with the following points by the end of 2015:

  • Waste prevention measures;
  • Binding waste-reduction targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste to be achieved by 2025;
  • Application of the “pay as you throw” principle;
  • Targets for recycling and preparation for reuse to be raised to at least 70% of municipal solid waste and 80% of packaging waste by 2030;
  • Incineration to be strictly limited by 2020 to non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste; and
  • A binding, gradual reduction of all landfill waste. 

The MEPs have also called on the Commission to promote a life-cycle oriented approach towards product policy and ecodesign, with an ambitious work programme. They want a review of ecodesign legislation by the end of 2016, broadening its scope and covering all product groups, as well as demanding clearer definitions of the requirements for criteria such as durability, repairability, reusability and recyclability. They also want the Commission to draw up measures to eliminate planned obsolescence.

To tackle the problem of scarce resources, the extraction and use of resources must be reduced and the link between growth and the use of natural resources must be severed.  The committee says that in order to switch to the sustainable use of resources by 2050, EU policy must require:

  • A reduction, in absolute terms, of resource consumption to sustainable levels;
  • Strict application of the Waste Hierarchy;
  • Implementation of a cascading use of resources;
  • Greater use of renewables,
  • Phasing-out of toxic substances; and
  • Improvements in the quality of ecosystem services.

The committee have also stated that the Commission should propose indicators for resource efficiency, measuring resource consumption, including imports and exports, and their use should be mandatory from 2018.  They have called for a binding target to increase resource efficiency at EU level by 30% from 2014 levels, by 2030, as well as individual targets for each member state.

The global economy uses the equivalent of one and a half planets’ worth of resources to produce global output and absorb waste and estimates put this figure at two planets’ worth of resources by the 2030s, say MEPs.  Europe is more dependent on imported resources than any other region in the world and many resources will be exhausted in the relatively short term.

MEPs stress that improving resource use could lead to substantial net savings for EU businesses, public authorities and consumers, estimated at 600 billion Euros, or 8% of annual turnover, while also reducing total annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2% to 4%.  They emphasise that a 30% increase in resource productivity by 2030 could boost GDP by nearly 1% and create 2 million additional sustainable jobs.

The full House will vote on the report at the July session in Strasbourg, being held from the 6th – 9th July. 

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