Expectations too high

If an ambitious announcement is made, it is bound to raise high expectations. Now the EU Commission will have to live with the fact that it was unable to fulfil these expectations with its new circular economy package. Nevertheless, the package is not a total failure, quite the contrary.

In addition to improvements in waste management, which are, from the Commission‘s point of view, significant for the quantity and quality of secondary raw materials, further measures to strengthen the markets need to be taken. For some material streams, the Commission wants to establish quality standards in cooperation with the industry. In addition, the criteria for the end of waste status will be harmonised and clarified. In order to facilitate cross-border trade in secondary raw materials, the Commission intends to make increased use of electronic data transmission. Financial incentives to create demand are not included in the package. Here, the Commission intends to rely on the market and especially the private sector, without offering any support in detail. Public institutions are also expected to stimulate demand, albeit without binding targets.

Some topics require special attention from the Commission’s point of view, including plastics. The aforementioned strategy will be “addressing issues such as recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in certain plastics and marine litter”. The further development of the Ecodesign Directive, higher quality standards and the facilitation of cross-border trade are expected to additionally promote plastics recycling.

Another focus is on food waste, although the Commission remains rather vague on this point. Measures will be taken, including a common measurement methodology, improvement of “best before” labels and tools needed to achieve the global sustainability objective of reducing food waste by half by 2030. However, it acknowledges that the exact extent of food waste is not known – and so far it is not clear as to what halving the amount actually entails. The opportunities to donate food to charities and the use of food in animal feed are also to be improved.

To improve the recovery of critical raw materials, the Commission attaches great importance to raising e-waste recycling rates. Improvements are mainly to be achieved through product design, but there is also a need to enhance the economic viability of recycling processes. In addition, the Commission sees the need to improve the exchange of information regarding the materials concerned.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.