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Using resources in a sustainable way

Overview of the Circular Economy Package

Brussels, 18 December 2015 | Published in Economy

On 2 December, the European Commission adopted the new Circular Economy package to stimulate Europe's transition towards a stronger and more circular economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way. Its aim is to boost competitiveness, create jobs and generate sustainable growth.

The proposed actions cover the full lifecycle, from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. 

What does circular economy actually mean?

A greater recycling and re-use which brings benefits for both the environment and the economy

The plans will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing Green House Gas emissions. Sectorial measures are also set out, as well as quality standards for secondary raw materials. The Package tackles climate change and the environment by its actions to use resources in a sustainable way.

Where does the budget come from?

The package got support from European Structural and Investment Funds, namely €5.5 billion from Structural funds for waste management, and investments in the circular economy at national level and from Horizon 2020 in the amount of €650 million.

Key actions and potential impact on the housing sector

  • Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency;
  • A strategy on plastics in the circular economy, addressing issues of recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the Sustainable Development Goals target for significantly reducing marine litter;
  • Actions to reduce food waste including a common measurement methodology, improved date marking, and tools to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030;
  • A series of actions on water reuse including a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater
  • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles)

First Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for sustainable development, Frans Timmermans highlighted that

“the circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works”