On March 11, 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the European Commission adopted its new circular economy plan. New ambitions for Europe with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
This new plan, which is part of the Green Pact for Europe launched at the end of 2019, continues and reinforces Brussels' action to promote a circular economy. Remember, in 2015 the European Commission launched its first circular economy plan with 54 actions. The aim of this first plan was mainly to "close the loop" by increasing the use of recycling and reuse.
How can we produce and consume more sustainably? That is the question! The proposals in this second plan concentrate on the life cycle of products manufactured and consumed on our continent. The goal is to transition to a more circular economy.
"Today, [our economy] is still essentially linear as only 12 per cent of secondary materials and resources go back into the economy," Frans Timmermans, Executive VP Green Pact
From 2021, the proposed legislation will be aimed at more sustainable processes and production. With this measure, Brussels aims to combat planned obsolescence, increase product repairability and recyclability while at the same time broadening the scope of ecodesign. Digital technology can be used to serve the circular economy. Digital product passports detailing product composition could facilitate recyclability and parts replacement.
On the consumer side, Brussels wants to empower consumers by increasing access to information and knowledge about sustainable products. The current Covid-19 epidemic has coincidentally anticipated this measure with the creation of numerous citizen initiatives for more responsible consumption (group purchasing platforms, local and sustainable products, small scale production, etc.).
The plan also involves strengthening actions in the sectors that use the most resources and where the circular economy potential is high. These include electronics, automotive, textiles, packaging, plastics, construction and food. The measures initiated in the first plan to reduce our waste and increase the use of secondary raw materials will continue and be reinforced.
With its new plan, Brussels is seeking to promote growth, strengthen Europe's attractiveness and create new jobs. The European Commission predicts that by adopting ambitious measures based around the circular economy, the EU's GDP could increase by 0.5% by 2030 and some 700,000 jobs could be created.
What's more, Brussels has reiterated its desire to maintain its ecological transition ambitions - notably through its European Green Pact - despite the Covid-19 related crisis.
This plan, presented at the beginning of the lockdown, could in fact pave the way for a European economic recovery based on the circular economy - thereby reconciling both economic and ecological demands!
CREDITS: Main picture © Unsplash