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