Public Policy

April 1, 2021

The EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan gathers steam

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The European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP), published in March 2020, is one of the cornerstones of its European Green Deal announced a few months earlier. The CEAP includes 35 separate initiatives along the entire life cycle of products, including designing products to be more sustainable (“eco-design”), promoting circular economy processes, fostering sustainable consumption and keeping resources circulating in the EU economy as long as possible, decoupling growth from resource consumption. Although that may sound overly ambitious, the Commission’s first CEAP, launched in 2015, included 54 actions and all of them have already been delivered or are in the course of being implemented.

The European Parliament has already stated its support for an ambitious environmental agenda. In February it adopted an own-initiative report that went beyond the original European Commission proposal to call for legally binding 2030 targets for materials use and consumption footprint of all products placed on the EU market. They also called on the Commission to introduce product-specific standards for recycled materials to be incorporated into new products placed on the EU market.

A kick-off online stakeholder information workshop on the Industrial Emissions Directive took place on December 15, 2020 and a public consultation just closed. The draft Directive is schedule to be published in Q4 2021.

A legislative proposal on non-financial reporting – including environmental metrics – and an updated regulation on waste shipments are due to be published soon.

A consultation on the reduction of packaging waste closed in January and should result in a Commission proposal in Q4 of 2021.

Part of the CEAP relates to leading environmental efforts at the global level. In March, the Commission published a 47-page working document outlining how it is pushing the Circular Economy agenda globally through diplomacy and its work with international organisations. This includes efforts towards a global agreement on plastics; a Global Circular Economy Alliance; and “mainstreaming circular economy objectives in free trade agreements, in bilateral, regional and multilateral processes and agreements, and in EU external policy funding instruments.

A public consultation on sustainable product design is currently open.

Many more measures are still at an early stage of workshops and/or planning for public consultations soon including those on:

  • An EU strategy for sustainable textiles
  • REACH – updating the list of hazardous substances under the EU’s chemicals regulation
  • Ecodesign requirements for refrigerators
  • Revision of EU rules on end-of-life vehicles
  • Measures to reduce microplastics pollution

If you are interested in knowing more about any of these initiatives please contact our Brussels office

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