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Circular economy programme needs greater long-term support says report
A new report has called on European Union institutions to promote resource efficiency beyond the completion of the Circular Economy Package. By learning from best practice scenarios, some €324bn could be added to the EU’s economy by 2030.
A new report “Beyond the Circular Economy Package: maintaining momentum on resource efficiency” has been published by the Aldersgate Group. The report compiles case studies that highlight the economic business case for championing resource efficiency and backing it with effective long-term policy support.
The report notes that businesses are facing numerous barriers and “regulatory obstacles” when trying to embed closed-loop practices. Notably, the report found that a lack of clear market signals made it difficult for businesses to drive innovation.
The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho said: “To invest in new business models, more resource efficient processes and new supply chains, businesses need the assurance that the resource efficiency agenda will remain a priority for the EU in the long term.”
Despite the ambitious framework of the Circular Economy Package, the Aldersgate Group report argues that the transition to a circular and competitive economy will require long-term policy support. Specifically, the report calls on institutions to publish resource efficiency design criteria in product standards, improve financial and technical support for business innovation and to expand the criteria of the circular economy into public procurement and other product ranges.
The report also encourages Member States to develop pricing mechanisms that support material reuse. Between 2000 and 2016 EU resource productivity increased from €1.47/kg to €2.07/kg but household waste levels continue to rise and recycling rates are flatlining in certain countries.
To counteract these trends, the report recommends that Member States set consistent implementation actions that are holistic across the EU. This would require improved definitions of waste, and that materials that can be re-used are no longer identified as waste.
The recommendations are based on numerous EU circular economy pilot projects. Companies involved in the REBus project have delivered financial benefits of €5.62m, material savings in excess of 62,000 tonnes and a reduction in emissions of nearly 2,000 tonnes.
The projects were carried out across key market sectors worth €350bn to the EU economy. Research carried out off the back of these projects suggest that they could increase the EU economy’s gross value added by up to €324bn by 2030.
The European Commission’s vice-president Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness said: “The transformation towards more resource efficient business models is not a matter of choice but a necessity for retaining competitiveness. The move to a more resource efficient economy calls for an ambitious policy framework beyond the Circular Economy Package, which will require the active engagement of all stakeholders, from policymakers and businesses to consumers.”
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