Brussels — Green Week is the EU’s annual conference on environmental policy and this year’s focus is on how to make Europe , become more resource-efficient and, ultimately, turn into a circular economy. The conference is an opportunity to set out how Europe can break its linear approach to consumption, where products are made, sold and discarded as waste, and move to a new model where re-use and recycling of products become the norm throughout the EU.
Green Week serves as a precursor to the European Commission’s long-awaited policy package on the Circular Economy and review of EU waste targets. The EEB calls on EU decision-makers to be bold and push for ambitious waste prevention targets that are binding for national states for 2020.
Set of instruments needed
Piotr Barczak, the EEB’s Policy Officer for Waste who is a panellist at the conference, said: “Green Week is an important opportunity to re-iterate how we can get to a circular economy. The time for thinking about it as a pilot project is over. What we now need is a set of regulatory and economic instruments to trigger systemic change in Europe. Now is the time for action.”
The recent EEB study „Advancing Resource Efficiency in Europe„ showed that adopting an ambitious approach in the waste targets review could lead to substantial economic and environmental benefits, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions by over 415 million tonnes by 2030 and helping to employ 860,000 people, or one in every six of the young Europeans who are currently jobless.
In order to release this potential, leading NGOs working on waste issues highlighted the ten steps the European Commission can take in its upcoming Circular Economy Package. These include bringing in binding EU material reduction targets, setting waste prevention and reuse targets, increasing the recycling targets, banning landfilling and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste, and promoting extended producer responsibility and resource taxation schemes.
Recently the European Environment Agency also releases its report on „Building a Resource-Efficient and Circular Economy in Europe„. It makes the case for significantly altering production and consumption patterns in the EU. The average citizen consumed 14.6 tonnes of materials in 2011, yet generated around 4.5 tonnes of waste. With only half of this amount feeding back into the production process, the report reveals the work that remains to complete the circular economy.
Stéphane Arditi, Policy Manager of Products & Waste Policy at the EEB, was also speaking at Green Week and commented: “Better product design and more ambitious waste policies are the keys to unlocking the circular economy. Together they can drive job creation and innovation, and reduce our dependence on imported, costly raw materials from outside Europe.”
Source: European Environmental Bureau (EEB)