On February 10, 2021, the European Parliament (EP) released a press statement that it has adopted a report in which it requests the European Commission (EC) to implement binding targets in material use and consumption, as well as the expansion of the EcoDesign Directive in the EC’s proposed Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP).
The report was released on January 27, 2021, following a debate that was held in October 2020 in response to the adoption of the CEAP by the EC in March 2020 (FPF reported). The CEAP itself has been highly praised, among others, for supporting sustainable and durable product design.
However, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are now calling for the additional introduction of two legally binding targets to the plan to significantly reduce the EU’s overall material and consumption footprints by 2050, a strong statement against the previously suggested “green growth strategy.”
Furthermore, during the debate, Rapporteur Jan Huitema described two major obstacles for the circular economy that are not sufficiently addressed by the current legislation: Firstly, the far too low price of natural resources compared to recycled products, and secondly the limited availability of high-quality and safe secondary or recycled materials.
In the report, the EP’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety suggests solutions to address both issues. In order to create a market for recycled materials, the MEPs recommend, among others, using legal and market instruments to reduce costs of using recycled raw materials e.g. via product-specific legally binding targets for recycled content or a CO2 rewards system. To solve the second problem, the MEPs call for, among others, expanding the EcoDesign directive, which demands implementing recyclability already at the design stage also for non-energy-related products such as packaging.
Stephane Arditi, Director of Policy Integration and Circular Economy at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) also welcomed the call for legally binding targets and said:
“Legally binding targets to reduce material use and consumption are badly needed. They were the main missing piece of the puzzle in the European Commission’s proposal. If approved by the Commission and member states without delays, the targets can play a central role in Europe’s green recovery, helping citizens, businesses and governments save valuable and limited resources.”
EP (February 10, 2021). “Circular economy: MEPs call for tighter EU consumption and recycling rules.”
EEB (February 10, 2021). “European Parliament demands first-ever EU targets to reduce over-consumption.”
EUWID (Feburary 15, 2021). “Europäische Glas- und Metallverpackungsindustrie begrüßt Entschließung des Parlaments zum CEAP”
Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (January 28, 2021). “Report on the New Circular Economy Action Plan (2020/2077(INI)).” (pdf)