In a presentation of the 2015 Commission Work Programme to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, yesterday (December 16), First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said it wants to withdraw its existing proposal on the Circular Economy, to make way for a broader and more ambitious approach that can be more effective.
Address recycling in product design
“We want to look beyond the narrow focus on waste and to 'close the loop' of the circular economy, for example by addressing recycling in product design and creating a market for secondary raw material,” he said.
“We will present this new, more ambitious proposal to promote the circular economy by the end of 2015. In parallel we will promote investment in this sector through the new European Fund for Strategic Investment as well as the European Structural and Investment Funds.”
According to the Commission, circular economy systems keep the added value in products for as long as possible and eliminate waste. They keep resources within the economy when a product has reached the end of its life, so that they can be productively used again and again and create further value.
Transition to a more circular economy requires changes throughout value chains, from product design to business and market models, from alternative ways of turning waste into a resource to modes of consumer behaviour. This implies full systemic change, and innovation not only in technologies, but also in organisation, society, finance methods and policies.
Even in a highly circular economy there will remain some element of linearity as virgin resources are required and residual waste is disposed of.
Call for further clarification
Virginia Janssens, managing director, EUROPEN, (European Organization for Packaging and the Environment) told FoodProductionDaily it is calling for further clarification from the Commission on what it means when it refers to “a more ambitious” package.
“While certain aspects of the Circular Economy package required improvement, EUROPEN has from the start supported the overall objectives of the proposal and has engaged constructively with the EU institutions to make the necessary adjustments,” she said.
“The Commission decided to withdraw the current Circular Economy package, and develop a “more ambitious” Circular Economy package by the end of 2015. I believe we now need to seek further clarifications from the Commission on what they exactly mean when they refer to “a more ambitious” package and how they intend to address the entire circle of the Circular Economy in a new legislative package.
“As the Commission expects to finish a new proposal by the end of 2015, they should come forward with concrete proposals without delay early 2015. It also remains to be seen how the European Parliament and the Member States will react to the Commission’s decision.”
Janssens added EUROPEN’s key priorities are to take stock of ongoing policy discussions on the EU legislative Circular Economy package this year and early next year, seek further clarifications on the next policy steps and formulate its views on the essential elements for the industry in a new or modified legislative proposal, constructively working together with the EU Institutions in this regard in the course of 2015.
Plastics Recyclers Europe
She said a number of EUROPEN’s planned activities in 2015, e.g. participation in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee hearing on the subject in January 2015 and a February workshop with the European Parliament Rapporteur, might need to be rescheduled.
“Any (new or modified) Circular Economy proposal should effectively addresses the substantial challenges that remain to achieve better implementation of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) and to ensure that Extended Producer Responsibility remains a cost-effective compliance option for producers/importers to meet European and national packaging recycling targets,” said Janssens.
Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) has also said it regrets the delay announced by Timmermans because it would have created 120,000 jobs, but it looks forward to the ‘more ambitious Circular Package’.
“A direct implementation of the Circular Economy would have enabled the creation of 120,000 jobs only in plastics recycling,” said Ton Emans, president, PRE.
“The Commission must keep its word to make this revised proposal in a speedy manner. As underlined in the Commission’s Green paper on plastic waste, increased recycling in Europe will lead to a more sustainable and circular economy. ”