28 May 2015 by Michael Holder

EU circular economy consultation launched

The European Commission today (May 28) launched a 12-week public consultation on the main policy options which it says will feed into the development of an “ambitious new approach” on the circular economy.

European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans

European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans

According to the Commission, stakeholders’ views will be put towards the preparation of a revised proposal on the waste review and a new action plan for a “competitive” circular economy, which will be presented before the end of 2015.

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

However, as consultations on the review of EU waste targets and the sustainability of the food system both took place relatively recently in 2013, the consultation launched today focuses on “other points” relating to the circular economy “broadening the scope of the inquiry to other parts of the economic cycle” such as production, consumption, innovation and investment.

A Roadmap document accompanying the circular economy 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 runs until August 20 2015 and invites views on “various parts of the economic cycle” from citizens, public authorities, businesses and governmental and non-governmental parties. A separate public consultation on waste market distortions is already ongoing.

The Commission will also host a stakeholders’ conference in Brussels next month (June 25) which it says will feed into the consultation process.

Previous proposals

Proposed new recycling targets were originally put forward in July 2014 alongside a series of circular economy proposals drawn up by the former Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, but these were scrapped by the new Commission late last year in favour of developing a ‘more ambitious’ policy package.

The scrapped package included an 80% by 2030 reuse and recycling target for packaging waste, including individual targets for packaging streams such as 90% of paper and cardboard by the end of 2025, 60% of plastic packaging, 80% for wood and 90% for ferrous metal, aluminium and glass by the end of 2030.

New circular economy proposals are being prepared by a project team led by Commission Vice Presidents Frans Timmermans and Jyrki Katainen, as well as Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella and Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for industry and small businesses.

The policy package will comprise a revised legislative proposal on waste and a Communication setting out an action plan on the circular economy, taking a “coherent approach that fully reflects interactions and interdependence along the value chain”.

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.”

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “Moving towards a more sustainable circular economy can create win-win solutions and provide Europe with a new competitive advantage. We want to put forward a comprehensive action plan with incentives for both consumers and businesses to use resources more efficiently. For this we need input from stakeholders in all parts of the value chains.”

Related Links:

European Commission consultation on the circular economy


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