European Commission Adopts Circular Economy Action Plan

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By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub, June 1, 2020

The European Commission has adopted a plan focusing on the design and production for a circular economy, ensuring that resources used stay in the EU economy for as long as possible. The plan aims to reduce the EU’s consumption footprint, double its circular material use rate, and contribute to economic decarbonization by reducing the EU’s carbon and material footprint.

The Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe, which is central to the European Green Deal, seeks to ensure that the economy is fit for a green future and strengthen competitiveness while protecting the environment. It introduces legislative and non-legislative measures and target areas where action at the EU level brings added value.

More specifically, the Circular Economy Action Plan details measures to:

  • make sustainable products the norm in the EU, including, for example, the restriction of single-use products and ensuring that products on the EU market are designed to last longer, are easier to reuse, repair, and recycle, and incorporate recycled material as much as possible;
  • empower consumers through access to reliable information about products at the point of sale, including on their life span;
  • focus on sectors that use the most resources and have the potential for high circularity, including electronics and information and communications technology (ICT), batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, and food; and
  • ensure less waste by transforming it into high-quality secondary resources and implementing actions to minimize EU waste exports and tackle illegal shipments.

Applying ambitious circular economy measures in Europe can increase the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP) by an additional 0.5% by 2030, creating around 700,000 new jobs, according to a European Commission press release.

The Action Plan includes measures to mobilize private financing in support of the circular economy through EU financial instruments, such as InvestEU. It also proposes the launch of a global circular economy alliance to explore starting a discussion on a possible international agreement on natural resource management. [Questions and Answers on the Action Plan] [New Circular Economy Action Plan Factsheet]