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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 23.09.2021, 17:58

European “green deal”: benefits for business and consumers

Eugene Eteris, BS International Editor, from Copenhagen, 18.03.2020.Print version
The Commission’s “green deal” adopted in December 2019, represents a European ambitious plan towards a climate-neutral circular economy, strengthened competitiveness, protecting the environment and giving additional rights to consumers. The “green deal” requires the member states’ governments to take decisive actions in adopting circular economy plans as the main part of new EU priorities.

Modern trends in circular economy, where economic growth is decoupled from resource use, are aimed at reducing pressure on natural resources providing adequate conditions for achieving the climate-neutrality target by 2050 and halting biodiversity loss. 


Presently, about half of total greenhouse gas emissions, more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from resource extraction and processing. The circular economy will have net positive benefits in terms of GDP growth and jobs' creation, since applying ambitious circular economy measures in the EU states will increase the European GDP by an additional 0.5% by 2030 creating around 700,000 new jobs. 


More in the EU priorities in: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

 

The European Commission adopted the “Circular Economy Action Plan” (11.03.20), which is one of the main building blocks of the “green deal”, i.e. the European new priority’s agenda for sustainable growth. With measures along the entire life cycle of products, the action plan aims to make the states’ economies fit for a “green future”, strengthening competitiveness while protecting the environment and giving new rights to consumers. 


Building on the work done since 2015, the new plan focuses on the design and production for a circular economy, with the aim to ensure that the resources used are kept in the national economies for as long as possible. 


The plan and the initiatives therein will be developed with the close involvement of the business and stakeholder community. 


On Circular Economy in: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/pdf/new_circular_economy_action_plan.pdf

 


Commission’s opinion

Executive Vice-President responsible for the “green deal”, F. Timmermans underlined that achieving regional climate-neutrality by 2050, will need concerted actions by the member states in preserving natural environment, in strengthening competitiveness and creating fully circular economies. 


Presently, the economies in the member states are still mostly linear: only 12 per cent of secondary materials and resources are recycled and brought back to production. Many consumer goods/products are easily damaged and cannot be reused, repaired or recycled being made for single use only. These provide huge potentials for new businesses and initiatives to be exploited: therefore, a green deal is part of EU actions in transforming production modes while empowering consumers to make sustainable choices for their own and environmental benefit.


According to V. Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Union’s environment, oceans and fisheries, human natural products’ consumption is rapidly increasing: by 2050 it will “need three planets” to satisfy increasing demand. Hence, the new EU plan will make circularity as the mainstream in the member states’ growth patterns and speed up the green transition in economies. Among the “tools” are: decisive actions to change the product design as “the top” of the sustainability chain; future-oriented actions in creating new business and jobs; as well as harnessing innovation and digitalisation, to name a few. 

 


Sustainable growth model in the states

The transition towards a circular economy is already underway, with frontrunner businesses, consumers and public authorities in Europe embracing this sustainable model. The Commission will make sure that the circular economy transition delivers opportunities for all, leaving no one behind. 


The Circular Economy Action Plan, as part of the EU Industrial Strategy presents measures to:

  • Make sustainable products the norm in the EU. The Commission will propose legislation on Sustainable Product Policy, to ensure that products placed on the EU market are designed to last longer, are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, and incorporate as much as possible recycled material instead of primary raw material. Single-use will be restricted, premature obsolescence tackled and the destruction of unsold durable goods banned.
  • Empower consumers. Consumers will have access to reliable information on issues such as the reparability and durability of products to help them make environmentally sustainable choices. Consumers will benefit from a true ‘Right to Repair'.
  • Focus on the sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high.

 

The Commission has recommended the following concrete actions in the member states: 

= electronics and ICT: the Commission’s “circular electronics initiative” is oriented towards longer product lifetimes, improving collection and treatment of various wastes;

= batteries and vehicles: new regulatory framework for batteries for enhancing the sustainability and boosting the circular potential of batteries;

= packaging: new mandatory requirements on what is allowed on the EU market, including the reduction of (over)packaging;

= plastics: new mandatory requirements for recycled content and special attention on micro-plastics as well as bio-based and bio-degradable plastics

= textiles: new EU’s “strategy for textiles” is aimed at strengthening competitiveness and innovation in the sector and boosting the European market for textile reuse;

= construction and buildings:  a comprehensive European “strategy for sustainably-built environment” will promote circularity principles for buildings and constructions;

= food: new legislative initiative is expected on extensive food-reuse to substitute single-use packaging, tableware and cutlery by reusable products in food services;

= ensuring less waste: the decision-making’s focus will be on avoiding all sorts of wastes and transforming it into high-quality secondary resources to benefit from a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials. The Commission intends to explore an EU-wide harmonised model for the separate collection of waste and labeling; the plan also puts forward a series of actions to minimize EU exports of waste and tackle illegal shipments.

General reference: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_420

 

Additional information in the following web-links: = New Circular Economy Action Plan website; = Factsheet: New Circular Economy Action Plan; = New video stockshots on circular economy: plastics; = A new Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe; = Annex to the new Circular Economy Action Plan for a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe; = Staff working document ‘Leading the way to a global circular economy: state of play'; = Eurobarometer survey: Protecting the environment and climate is important for over 90% of European citizens; = First Circular Economy Action Plan website






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