Turning waste into valuable resource

Consumers will benefit from a true ‘right to repair'

Photo: EU Virginijus Sinkevicius

The Commission said that the model of take, make, use, discard has reached its limits and tabled on Wednesday a new Circular Economy Action Plan. It is part and parcel of the Green Deal and its objective has to do with stronger competitiveness that protects the environment and also gives more rights to consumers.

The new plan will make circularity the mainstream in our lives and speed up the green transition of our economy, stated Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, adding that the Commission offers decisive action to change the top of the sustainability chain – product design. Future-oriented actions will create business and job opportunities, give new rights to European consumers, harness innovation and digitalisation and, just like nature, make sure that nothing is wasted, he explained.

The plan is an element of the EU Industrial Strategy and aims to make sustainable products the norm in the EU. To that end, the executive will suggest legislation on Sustainable Product Policy. It will ensure that consumers can buy on the EU market products that will last longer, and are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, and incorporate as much as possible recycled material instead of primary raw material.

Seriously restricted will be goods designed to be used just once and also will be addressed premature obsolescence, and will be prohibit the destroying of unsold long-lasting products.

As for consumers to benefit from a true ‘right to repair', they will have access to reliable information on issues such as the reparability and durability of products.

Concrete actions will be kicked off for the industrial branches with a high circularity potential that use the most resources. On electronics and ICT front will work a ‘Circular Electronics Initiative' dedicated to longer product lifetimes, better collection and treatment of waste. Concerning batteries and vehicles there will be new regulatory framework for enhancing the sustainability and boosting the circular potential of batteries.

There will be new obligatory conditions on packaging with clear rules what is allowed on the EU market. Also binding will be the requirements for plastics and their recycled content and special focus will be set on microplastics, biobased and biodegradable stuff.

 Along the same line, a new EU Strategy for Textiles will strengthen competitiveness and innovation in the sector and boost the EU market for textile reuse. A wide-ranging new strategy will drive circularity principles for buildings. A brand new legislation will be introduced on changeover of single-use packaging, tableware and cutlery by reusable products in food services. The new plan focus as well on transforming waste into valuable resources through a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials.

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