The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy: the strat­egy for plas­tics

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

In De­cem­ber 2015, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion adopted an am­bi­tious Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy Package in­clud­ing leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als on waste with re­cy­cling and land­fill re­duc­tion tar­gets, and a de­tailed Ac­tion Plan of measures to un­der­take by the end of its man­date in 2019.

To en­sure sus­tain­able growth for the EU, its cit­i­zens have to use their re­sources in a smarter, more sus­tain­able way. It is clear that the lin­ear model of eco­nomic growth we re­lied on in the past is no longer suited for the needs of to­day's mod­ern so­ci­eties in a glob­alised world. One can­not build a fu­ture on a 'take-make-dis­pose' model. Many nat­u­ral re­sources are fi­nite, and there­fore EU cit­i­zens must find an en­vi­ron­men­tally and eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able way of us­ing them. It is also in the eco­nomic in­ter­est of busi­nesses to make the best pos­si­ble use of their re­sources.

In a cir­cu­lar econ­omy, the value of prod­ucts and ma­te­ri­als is main­tained for as long as pos­si­ble; waste and re­source use are min­imised, and re­sources are kept within the econ­omy when a prod­uct has reached the end of its life, to be used again and again to cre­ate fur­ther value. This model can cre­ate se­cure jobs in Europe, pro­mote in­no­va­tions that give a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and pro­vide a level of pro­tec­tion for hu­mans and the en­vi­ron­ment that Europe is proud of. It can also pro­vide con­sumers with more durable and in­no­va­tive prod­ucts that pro­vide mon­e­tary sav­ings and an in­creased qual­ity of life.

In 2017, the Com­mis­sion will con­tinue to de­liver on the Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy Ac­tion Plan. This will in­clude the pre­sen­ta­tion of a strat­egy for plas­tics in the cir­cu­lar econ­omy, an as­sess­ment of op­tions for the im­proved in­ter­face be­tween chem­i­cals, prod­ucts and waste leg­is­la­tion, a leg­isla­tive pro­posal on wa­ter re­use and a mon­i­tor­ing frame­work on cir­cu­lar econ­omy.

The strat­egy for plas­tics will im­prove the eco­nom­ics, qual­ity and low rate of plas­tic re­cy­cling and re­use, it will ad­dress the sig­nif­i­cant leak­age of plas­tics into the en­vi­ron­ment, in par­tic­u­lar the oceans, and the high de­pen­dence on fos­sil-fuel as feed­stock (more than 90 % of plas­tics to­day are still pro­duced from fos­sil fuel feed­stock).

The ini­tia­tive ad­dress­ing the in­ter­face be­tween chem­i­cals, prod­ucts and waste leg­is­la­tion will notably ad­dress the trace­abil­ity of sub­stances of con­cern in prod­ucts and their trace­abil­ity in re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als and dif­fi­cul­ties in the ap­pli­ca­tion of EU waste clas­si­fi­ca­tion method­olo­gies.

The cir­cu­lar econ­omy mon­i­tor­ing frame­work will as­sess progress to­wards a more cir­cu­lar econ­omy and the ef­fec­tive­ness of ac­tion at EU and na­tional level. The mon­i­tor­ing frame­work will build on ex­ist­ing EU Score­boards on Re­source Ef­fi­ciency and on Raw Ma­te­ri­als, and in­clude other mean­ing­ful in­di­ca­tors that cap­ture the main el­e­ments of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy. It will be aligned with the mon­i­tor­ing of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.

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