Reuse, repair, refurbish and recylce. That’s the circular economy, that does not mean to multiply products perpetually, but on the contrary to valorize products and the materials they contain. Moving toward a circular economy, as reported in an analysis by EU Parliament, would be an environmental and economic rationale: It could reduce pressures on the environment, with positive effects on ecosystems, biodiversity and human health.
Above all, it could also be crucial for the security of supply of raw materials. The EU currently imports, in raw material equivalents, about half the resources it consumes.
It could reduce net resource spending in the EU by €600 billion annually, bringing total benefits estimated at €1.8 trillion per year with multiplier effects.
“More attention on consumption products and on the return to raw materials a second time. Circular economy will bring benefits to health and environment” Commissioner for Environment Vella said “I don’t think there will be oppositions from member states, given that this plan will create jobs, growth and investiments. It will also facilitate to keep the existing jobs at risk under the crisis” .
One of the main goals in the new EU package for circular economy is to halve food waste by 2030 through also a common instrument to monitor all countries : in EU the food waste is around 30% . In USA it achieves about 40%. “We often think that the expiration date is the one mentioned on a product package where it is written “ to consume preferably before”. But it does not mean that it expires that day, that’s how we waste” Commissioner Vella said.
The EU strategy will focus on the development of quality standards for secondary raw materials to increase the confidence of operators in the single market. Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition energy efficiency. Organic and waste-based fertilisers in the single will be recognized in the single market under revised regulations.
Furthermore, the new EU package stress in its achievements the siginficantly reducing of marine litter and acrtions on water reuse, through a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater. In particular, a common EU target to achieve will be the recycling 65% of municipal waste and the 75% of packing waste by 2030. The goal regarding landfills will be to reduce them to maximum 10% of all waste by 2030.
“Thi transition towards a more circular economy is about reshaping the market economy and improving our competitiveness . If we can be more resource efficient and reduce our dependency on scarce raw materials, we can develop a competitive edge” EU Commission Vice-President Katainen said .
The EU circolar economy strategy will be funded by 650 millions from the Horizon 2020 program and 5.5 miliardi form structural funds.
According to EU Commission estimates, this new model of economy could create 540 thousands of new jobs, for example new local jobs in the design, reuse and repair sectors. There would be also new business opportunities for companies, as well as opportunities for existing company to grow with cost-effective and innovative solutions.
Many valuable materials are lost every year, for example mobile phones and flat screens, because it is difficult to recover them from products. The European Commision will propose rules for easier and safer dismantling, reusing and recylcing of electronic dispalys. Even a better product design can help saving precious resources. An efficient energy use will bring savings for 465 euro per household every year.
The new plan will focus also on an innovative industrial process: the waste of one company can become the resource of an other company.
However, to keep our feet on the ground, it is necessessary to consider the high transition costs, thinking that we are quite far from an efficient and coordinated waste management system.