A genuinely circular economy would mean far less extraction and use of virgin resources, with a focus on a service economy that keeps products and materials in circulation for as long as possible, making full use of digital technology, systems, and data to manage th use of materials and products.
According to Cecilie Lind, CEO of Handelens Miljøfond the White Paper demonstrates the urgency of rethinking our approach to materials and waste policy in order to build a sustainable and circular economy by 2040. “The revision of the Waste Framework Directive is a critical step in achieving that goal,” she said.
The White Paper also presents an accompanying blueprint for a policy framework that will drive these changes effectively and at scale, harnessing the power of the single market to give businesses confidence to invest in the new business models necessary to deliver prosperity and profitability while reducing material consumption.
“Unless we make EU policies fit for purpose we can’t shift away from current inefficient linear take-make-waste economic models,” Joan Marc Simon, Director-Founder of Zero Waste Europe pointed out.
He added: “It’s imperative that the EU makes it easier and cheaper for citizens, businesses, and organisations to make the right choices.
The White Paper proposes a short-term revision of the WFD - by 2026- to provide:
- Softer regulation for the reuse, repair, and remanufacturing of products as well as clarity for industry on the environmental performance required of reuse systems.
- Greater consistency in the scope and application of extended producer responsibility (EPR) and a more granular recycling hierarchy that characterises ‘high quality’ recycling.
- A supportive environment for rapidly decarbonising the treatment and disposal of waste.
Ultimately, the authors write, the WFD would need to be transformed into a Resources Framework Directive by 2029 which would extend the scope and remit of the framework to include the reduction of resource consumption, introducing a materials application hierarchy to steer the use of different types of materials to maximise decarbonisation.
In a circular economy, consumers will be able to reap the benefits of higher-quality products that last longer while reducing the environmental impacts of materials like plastics, especially microplastics in clothing and tyres, said Dr Marcus Gover, who leads a team of scientists and policy experts at Minderoo Foundation.
“More needs to be done to encourage the proper collection, sorting, and recycling of valuable material that is simply thrown away.” added Wolfgang Ringel, senior vice president Group Public Affairs at Tomra.
Eunomia will be engaging with stakeholders over the next few months to further develop the ideas presented in this White Paper. “We know these changes need to happen, it’s best to act now and work together in an open, transparent, and collaborative fashion to determine the best way to do so,” said Dr Chris Sherrington, head of policy at Eunomia Research & Consulting.