European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe

The European Commission (EC) adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan – one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal. While building on circular economy actions implemented since 2015, the new Action Plan provides a future-oriented agenda for achieving a cleaner and more competitive Europe.

The new Action Plan announces initiatives along the entire life cycle of products, targeting for example their design, promoting circular economy processes, fostering sustainable consumption, and aiming to ensure that the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.

Concrete actions presented in the new plan include:

  • Enhancing sustainable products in the EU through a sustainable product policy framework, including the EU Ecolabel;
  • Empowering consumers and public buyers;
  • Focusing on the sectors that use most resources and where the potential for circularity is high such as: packaging, textiles, construction and buildings, food, etc;
  • Ensuring less waste;
  • Enhancing circularity as a prerequisite for climate neutrality, taking into account the impact of circularity on climate change mitigation and adaptation;
  • Making circularity work for people, regions and cities, taking into account the potential of EU financing instruments and funds to support the necessary investments at regional level and ensure that all regions benefit from the transition;
  • Integrating the circular economy objective under the EU Taxonomy Regulation;
    Leading global efforts on building a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy.

Even though forests and their products are not explicitly mentioned, the Action Plan refers to the upcoming new biodiversity and forest strategies while discussing a sustainability challenge posed by key value chains, which required urgent, comprehensive and coordinated actions to face it.

The Action Plan also brings circularity together with achieving climate neutrality and necessary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and removal of carbon from the atmosphere. According to the Commission, carbon removals can be nature-based, including through the restoration of ecosystems, forest protection, afforestation, sustainable forest management and carbon farming sequestration. carbon removals can also be based on increased circularity, for instance through long-term storage in wood constructions, re-use and storage of carbon in products such as mineralisation in building materials. To incentivise the uptake of carbon removals and increased circularity of carbon, in full respect of biodiversity objectives, the Commission will explore the development of a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals based on robust and transparent carbon accounting to monitor and verify the authenticity of carbon removals. Further work on this regulatory framework will require attention of EUSTAFOR and State Forest Managemnt Organisations due to its expected binding nature.

The transition to the circular economy will be systemic, deep and transformative, in the EU and beyond, which will require a strong collaboration of all stakeholders at all levels.

The first Circular Economy Action Plan was launched by the EC in 2015. All 54 actions under the plan have been delivered or are being implemented.

 

Source: European Commission

Published 01/04/2020

Mr. Piotr Borkowski

Executive Director

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