Circular economy

Circular economy and recycling: new EU reforms

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The European Commission adopted new green measures: billions of incentives and new recycling targets.

The European Commission approved the Circular Economy Package. Brussels stated that this new set of measures is aimed at helping companies and European consumers to transit towards a circular economy in which resources are used in a more sustainable way.

The reform proposals cover the whole life cycle of raw materials: production, consumption, waste management and secondary raw material marketing. This transition will be supported by ESIF (European Structural & Investment funding), by 650 million euros from the research and development program Horizon 2020, by 5.5 billion euros from the waste management structural funds and by circular economy investments at a national level.

These are the key actions called for by the Commission:

  • Actions to reduce food waste including a common measurement methodology for expiration dates, and tools to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030
  • Development of quality standards for secondary raw materials to increase the confidence of operators in the market
  • Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products
  • A strategy on plastics in the circular economy, addressing issues of recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the Sustainable Development Goals target for significantly reducing marine litter
  • A series of actions on water reuse including a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater

The reform package also includes a precise timeline for the actions proposed and a plan for a simple and effective monitoring framework.

The legislative proposal on waste sets clear targets for reduction of waste and establishes an ambitious long-term path for waste management and recycling. To ensure effective implementation, the waste reduction targets are accompanied by concrete measures to address the problems that Member States might have to face.

The waste proposal includes:

  • A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030
  • A common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030
  • A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum 10% of all waste by 2030
  • A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste
  • Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling
  • Simplified and improved definitions and harmonised calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU
  • Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis, turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material
  • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles)
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