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The circular economy offers a range of opportunities for European companies and for society as a whole. It presents an opportunity for businesses to position themselves as precursors on the market and therefore to anticipate the necessary changes but it should at the same time enable the company to advance with the necessary changes in consumption patterns. At the end of 2015 the Commission launched a package of measures on the circular economy, covering all phases of the business cycle. The package includes an action plan comprising 54 initiatives covering the entire life cycle of products and services. This means that the circular economy is now an integral part of the EU’s overall economic strategy. Firstly, the Action Plan contains a range of measures over the whole of the value chain — from production to consumption and waste management — that the Commission is implementing.

Moving to a circular economy means switching to more durable, repairable, products and energy economy which does not become waste too quickly. Consequently, in future we will take these aspects into account systematically when developing new products defined in the Ecodesign Directive. The waste legislative package will provide a clear and stable policy framework, enabling the public and private stakeholders in the EU to develop long-term investment strategies focusing on prevention, reuse and recycling. This includes stricter recycling targets for municipal waste and packaging waste plastics. Today, less than 25 % of plastic waste collected is recycled and about 50 % ending up in landfills. Our aim is also to gradually eliminate landfilling and to avoid overcapacity in the management of residual waste, resulting in particular from the incineration and mechanical-biological treatment.

We will deepen the EU’s internal market for secondary raw materials in order to increase demand and supply. More robust quality standards should lead to increased confidence in the materials recovered and complement the actions on request through ecodesign and public procurement. We also propose targeted measures for the sectors of the economy where stakeholders see specific challenges, and where we can have the most impact. These areas include plastics, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and bio-based products.

The package also includes an action plan for “green” public procurement. Public procurement represents almost 20 % of the EU consumption. Therefore, the Directives more effective in this sector could be accompanied by substantial dividends. This is one of the areas in which the European Commission intends to take the lead.

A report on implementation of the actions was presented in January 2017 detailing the actions already implemented and the actions planned for 2017.


The key actions already implemented include:

  • a proposal of revision of the Regulation on Fertilisers to boost the use of organic and waste-based fertilisers. Currently in the Parliament and Council adoption expected in 2017
  • a proposal for a Regulation on consumer protection for online sales of goods. Currently in the Parliament and Council adoption expected in 2017
  • the Communication regarding the role of waste-to-energy processes
  • updating legislation in order to restrict the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
  • The work plan Ecodesign 2016-2019 — the incorporation of aspects of the reparability, upgradability, durability, and recyclability and use of recycled materials in product design.
  • the revised waste shipment regulation
  • the platform to support the financing of the circular economy (including the EIB) (more information below)
  • stakeholder platform on the circular economy, announced during the conference on the circular economy in Brussels on standing of March (more information below)
  • the stakeholder platform on food waste
  • guidance on the integration of water reuse in water planning and management (published June 2016), inclusion of best practices in relevant BREFs, and support to innovation (through the European Innovation Partnership and Horizon 2020) and investments
  • pilot project for “innovation deals” to address possible regulatory obstacles for innovators
  • Initiative Industry 2020 under Horizon 2020 — which will grant over EUR 650 million for innovative demonstration projects that support the objectives of the circular economy and industrial competitiveness in the EU.


The Commission foresees 4 new key initiatives in 2017:

  • A strategy on plastics in the circular economy
  • A communication on the interface between legislation on chemicals, products and waste — it will facilitate the creation of markets for secondary raw materials
  • The development of a monitoring framework for the circular economy
  • A legislative proposal on minimum quality requirements for the reuse of wastewater
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