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Reaction to the European Commission’s report on the Circular Economy

We must praise the work done so far by EU officials to boost the transition towards a circular economy. But it’s too early to jump to conclusions, according to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

Europe is leading the way on the global transition to a circular economy, where waste is prevented and materials recycled, the EEB said. The comment is in response to the latest report by the European Commission on the implementation of the ‘Circular Economy Action Plan’.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisation with around 150 member organisations from more than 30 countries.

The report presents the main results of implementing the action plan, which was released in December 2015 and sketched out a series of measures to be discussed and adopted.

The EEB praised unprecedented measures to reduce the environmental impact of products and materials and to empower consumers. Innovation and ambitious recycling targets are also important drivers in the transition.

But a significant part of the planned measures has suffered from unjustifiable delays, while many others have only been investigated, the group added.

Stephane Arditi, a policy manager for the circular economy with the EEB, said:

The hesitations of Juncker’s team on the circular economy explain why we haven’t been able to achieve as much as we expected from the circular economy action plan. We urge the next European Commission and Parliament to engage with more courage and ambition towards the finalization of the planned actions and the discussion of the next wave of policy and economic initiatives to make the EU more circular, resilient and prosperous.

EU officials working in the European Commission will be replaced at the end of the year, while EU citizens will vote to elect new Members of the European Parliament in May.

Below are some examples of areas where the European Commission could have been more ambitious.

According to the action plan, the Commission was expected to:

  1. Examine options and actions for a more coherent policy framework of the different strands of work of EU product policy in their contribution to the circular economy.“ This has so far only resulted in a staff working document, which has not been discussed by EU decision makers and stakeholders even though it was supposed to be implemented in 2018.
  2. “[develop] Action on false green claims, including updated guidance on unfair commercial practices” by 2016, but there is still confusion over what exactly greenwashing is.
  3. “ [develop] Analysis and policy options to address the interface between chemicals, products and waste legislation, including how to reduce the presence and improve the tracking of chemicals of concern in products.” This was supposed to be finalized by 2017. But we still don’t have clear policy options preventing the proliferation of toxic substances resulting from sub-standard recycling.

For more information:

Mauro Anastasio - Communications Officer

mauro.anastasio@eeb.org

+32 2 274 10 87