It is great to see that the European Commission has adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan – one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal, Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth.
The new Action Plan announces initiatives along the entire life cycle of products, targeting for example their design, promoting circular economy processes, fostering sustainable consumption, and aiming to ensure that the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.
It introduces legislative and non-legislative measures targeting areas where action at the EU level brings real added value.
- The new Circular Economy Action presents measures to:
- Make sustainable products the norm in the EU;
- Empower consumers and public buyers;
- Focus on the sectors that use most resources and where the potential for circularity is high such as: electronics and ICT; batteries and vehicles; packaging; plastics; textiles; construction and buildings; food; water and nutrients;
- Ensure less waste;
- Make circularity work for people, regions and cities,
- Lead global efforts on circular economy.
While up to 80% of products’ environmental impacts are determined at the design phase, the linear pattern of “take-make-usedispose” does not provide producers with sufficient incentives to make their products more circular. Many products break down too quickly, cannot be easily reused, repaired or recycled, and many are made for single use only. At the same time, the single market provides a critical mass enabling the EU to set global standards in product sustainability and to influence product design and value chain management worldwide.
EU initiatives and legislation already address to a certain extent sustainability aspects of products, either on a mandatory or voluntary basis. Notably, the Ecodesign Directive successfully regulates energy efficiency and some circularity features of energy-related products. At the same time, instruments such as the EU Ecolabel or the EU green public procurement (GPP) criteria are broader in scope but have reduced impact due to the limitations of voluntary approaches. In fact, there is no comprehensive set of requirements to ensure that all products placed on the EU market become increasingly sustainable and stand the test of circularity.
In order to make products fit for a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy, reduce waste and ensure that the performance of front-runners in sustainability progressively becomes the norm, the Commission will propose a sustainable product policy legislative initiative.
The core of this new legislative initiative will be to widen the Ecodesign Directive beyond energy-related products so as to make the Ecodesign framework applicable to the broadest possible range of products and make it deliver on circularity.
The EU is now well on its way to getting the legislation in place. Then it will be exciting to see how well the individual member states and the EEA countries manage to follow up on the new environmental directives from the EU. Here lies a lot of potential business and opportunities for those who really understand what it takes to create a secular economy and are willing to take a strategically position. #sustainability #circulareconomy #strategy #business #sustainablebusiness #circularity