The European Commission has presented the Circular Economy Action Plan to ensure that circularity and efficiency act as a “prerequisite for climate neutrality” in line with the Agreement European Green and Industrial Strategy.
The current economic model based on “take, make, use and throw away” is a linear model that generates great waste, degradation and environmental impact. An example of this imbalance is that if the whole world consumed like the average European, three planets would be needed to sustain the global economy. The Circular Economy seeks to do “more with less” by increasing the life cycle of products and favoring the reintroduction of materials, products and elements into the production and consumption cycles.
The European Commission is aware that the circular economy has great potential to contribute to achieving the EU’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals. But not only that, with the new Circular Economy Action Plan it is intended to increase the EU’s GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030, creating around 700,000 new jobs. In the case of the Basque Country, the diagnosis of Circular Economy in Industry estimates an achievable average potential saving of 6% of said consumption of raw materials, which would mean savings of 2,000 million euros in Basque industry.
The Europe’s Circular Economy Action Plan presents measures to:
- Making sustainable products the norm in the EU;
- Empower consumers and public buyers;
- Focus on sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high, such as: electronics and ICT; batteries and vehicles; packaging; plastic; textiles; construction and buildings; meal; water and nutrients;
- Ensure less waste;
- Making circularity work for people, regions and cities,
- Lead global efforts in circular economy.
The document sets out ambitions to implement specific waste reduction targets for certain waste streams, with a strong focus on electronics, textiles, plastics and construction. In addition, a ban on the destruction of unsold durable goods will be introduced, while incentives will be created to promote product-as-a-service ownership models and take-back schemes for selected product streams.
Within the framework of Ecodesign, the ‘Circular Electronics Initiative’ aims to promote a longer lifespan for electronic products to implement a “right to repair” approach. through which most electronic equipment cannot be destroyed.
The EU plans to present a specific EU strategy for textiles, which will consist of eco-design measures to promote second-life materials and eliminate the presence of dangerous chemicals.
Biobased raw materials will be examined as plastic substitutes that are capable of reducing packaging-related carbon emissions and eliminating plastic utensils . The restriction of the use of microplastics that are intentionally added to products to improve functionality is also pursued.
It is intended to develop a Bioeconomy Action Plan to support a circular sector based on biology in parallel to the Strategy on food waste that is being drafted.
The Action Plan also seeks to determine the economic activities that can be considered ‘green’, in order to facilitate the investment of billions of euros to combat climate change within the European Green Deal.
With the aim of identifying knowledge and governance gaps in the advancement of a global circular economy, a Global Circular Economy Alliance will be created.