#EUinTwo: Implementing the Circular Economy

Malik Duhaut

As a key area of the European Green Deal, the recently announced Circular Economy 2.0 has put in place specific and ambitious actions to transform Europe’s economy.

The Commission is focused on reducing the environmental and social impact of products by making sure that by 2030 all products will be circular, increasing the use of secondary raw materials and tackling waste at the source.

These measures go hand in hand with greater use of the EU Ecolabel, the Ecodesign Directive and measures to help consumers shift away from a “throwaway” culture, such as the Right-to-Repair and obsolescence information.

Also included in the Circular Economy Action Plan is the introduction of a harmonized EU model for waste collection and a revision of rules on waste shipment. Additionally, the upcoming EU chemical policy encourages a shift to products which are safe by design, creating an economy that is both circular and non-toxic.

The Circular Economy includes actions on consumer electronics and batteries, but three specific sectors are highlighted.

The first is plastics. While the 2018 Plastics Strategy already answered several concerns, the Action Plan aims at tackling the remaining issues such as bio-plastics, sustainability claims and packaging. On packaging, Commissioner Sinkevicius said that the Commission will expand the rules for single-use plastics, banning certain types of plastics packaging and requiring the use of recycled plastics.

The second sector is textiles. The Commission has proposed a comprehensive EU strategy for textiles in 2021 to increase sustainability, innovation and circularity in the sector. With the Zero Pollution ambition in mind, the plan also includes more specific actions and further restrictions on microplastics and chemicals in textiles.

Finally, plans for the construction sector center around a comprehensive strategy for a sustainable Built Environment that promotes circularity in construction and focuses on reducing climate impact.

In short, the Circular Economy 2.0 is a comprehensive plan, setting out measures to decouple economic growth from resource use and place the EU as a leader in the global energy transition.