In March, the European Commission published a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, announcing that all 54 actions under the Circular Economy Action Plan launched in 2015 have now been delivered.
This has accelerated the transition towards a circular economy in Europe. In 2016, sectors relevant to the circular economy:
- employed more than four million workers, a 6% increase compared to 2012.
- opened up new business opportunities,
- gave rise to new business models
- developed new markets, domestically and outside the EU
- generated almost €147 billion in value added by repair, reuse or recycling
- and accounted for around €17.5 billion worth of investments.
On this site in February there was a report about The Manchester Declaration by the UK community repair movement (follow the link to see a wide range of members). This called for the repair of products, especially electronics, to be made more accessible and affordable, while ensuring that product standards that make products easier to repair are adopted.
There are currently 1689 Repair Cafés in the world. One product successfully repaired at a Repair Café can prevent up to 24 kilos of CO2 being emitted, according to research by Steve Privett, who examined data of almost 3000 repairs carried out at 13 Repair Cafés in the UK.
These activities are in tune with the Circular Economy Action Plan formulated by The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).
The EESC seeks to improve the Ecodesign Working Plan (2016-2019) in order to drive ‘wholesale’ change in behaviour through the supply chains of goods and services at a pace that would reflect the ambition of the Circular Economy Action Plan, introduced in December 2015.
The ecodesign of goods and services needs to go beyond just energy considerations – the component parts of a product should be easily recoverable for reuse and/or remanufacture and drive the creation of a strong secondary raw materials market. There must be a focus on the full lifecycle of products including:
- their durability,
- ease of maintenance
- and repair,
- potential for reuse,
- and actual uptake after use in the form of secondary materials in products entering the market.
The EESC has reaffirmed its support for the use of Extended Producer Responsibility as a tool to promote the transition to circular economy business models. It focusses on the end-of-use treatment of consumer products, aiming to increase the amount of product recovery and minimize the environmental impact of waste materials.
An EC reflection paper finds that almost all elements of the Action Plan have been delivered but more steps will need to be taken to build a fully circular European economy. Europe is moving steadily towards a climate-neutral, competitive circular economy where pressure on resources and ecosystems is minimised.