The European Commission has opened a 12 week consultation to help inform its upcoming policies for encouraging a more resource efficient and circular economy across Europe.
Making the announcement on 28 May, Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, said: “There is no alternative to using our resources more intelligently, designing our products with a view to their re-use and recycling, and setting ambitious targets for waste reduction and recycling.
“Today we are asking people across Europe for their input on how to design our policies in a way that stimulates a competitive green economy in Europe and protects the environment for future generations.”
After the Commission’s original circular economy package was scrapped at the end of 2014, green business advocates and the resource management industry have been hotly anticipating its revival, which has been tipped to focus more on resource efficient production and product design.
The new package is expected to affect all businesses across the value chain, from production through to consumption.
The consultation asks respondents to outline the level of importance of a range of different policy options that the EU could take to encourage a more ‘circular’ movement of goods and services.
Examples include establishing minimum requirements on products at the design stage, using financial incentives to encourage eco-innovation in production, establishing voluntary compliance schemes, or supporting certain resource efficient products and technologies through labelling, certifications and standards.
The opportunity is all the more attractive given recent findings that each UK landfill site could contain up to £90 million of valuable metals and that around £34 billion in recoverable materials is lost each year in waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).
However, there are still barriers preventing widespread change across the economy. For example, a new report from Dutch multinational bank, ING, highlights that the financial sector will have to change standard banking practices significantly to better match the changing nature of cash and value flows in circular business models.
The consultation on the circular economy will run until 20 August 2015, with the Commission’s final circular economy package due to be presented to European Parliament by the end of 2015.
To respond to the consultation, click here.