Revised Circular Economy plan announced by the EU


As world leaders grapple with climate change issues at the Paris C0P21 conference, the EU has presented its revised Circular Economy plan to radically change resource use and promote product life-cycle thinking.

The broad aim of the Circular Economy Package is to “close the loop of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy”, the European Commission says.

Waste prevention, ecodesign, re-use and similar measures could bring net savings of €600bn, or 8% of annual turnover, for businesses in the EU, while reducing total annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4 %, it says.

The package calls for new measures that will promote repairability, durability and recyclability to be built into products from the outset. Remanufacturing features highly in the new plan.

One industry’s by-product is another industry’s raw material, the Commission says, and the proposals aim to support the secondary market for raw materials by developing quality standards to increase the confidence of operators.

By contrast the revised package has controversially watered down targets for waste recycling and a reduced binding target for reducing landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030, instead of a total ban.  Some consider it “less ambitious” than the first set of proposals.

EC vice-president Frans Timmermans who led the development of the package, said: “By rethinking the way we produce, work and buy we can generate new opportunities and create new jobs. With today’s package, we are delivering the comprehensive framework that will truly enable this change to happen.” 

Market levers

The package introduces a variety of market mechanisms designed to encourage ‘circular’ behaviour. This includes economic instruments to discourage landfilling and incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery schemes).

The package will receive €5.5bn from the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) and €650 million from Horizon 2020 (the EU funding programme for research and innovation). 

The draft legislation will now be debated and amended by MEPs and ministers in the EU Council.

EC Circular Economy  Factsheet

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December 3, 2015