On the 16th December the European Commission announced they will drop their flagship circular economy package, with the promise of more ambitious legislation next year.
Rules from the 2015 work programme will be ditched, including measures to improve resource efficiency and recycling. Waste laws in the package have been hit, which has led to EU Environment Minsters reaffirming their support for waste regulation, and the issue being raised at the Council of Ministers meeting on the 17th December.
The Air Quality package was also dropped and a further 80 pending bills withdrawn, by Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans. The shake-up was part of a drive for “better regulation” with a more “realistic chance of being adopted”, by the new president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker.
The Circular Economy package, which was tabled in July 2014, had the ambition to turn more waste into a resource, boost jobs and economic growth, and reduce environmental impacts. Legally binding targets included a ban on landfilling all biodegradable and recyclable waste by 2025, 70 % recycling of municipal waste and 80 % recycling of packaging, by 2030. Aspirational goals in the package also included phasing out landfilling recoverable waste and reducing waste by 30 %.
BusinessEurope have praised the Commission for their “political courage”, predicting an increase in economy, jobs, and growth.
However, many organisations have condemned the actions, as it could lead to a loss of confidence in EU environmental policy. They dispute the “anti-competitive” claims of the package, made by BusinessEurope, citing a recent report by the non-profit Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, which estimated a circular economy would provide $1 trillion per year in material savings alone, and exceeds one million jobs created. Opposing parties included the European Trade Union Confederation, ALDE Group, Birdlife, and the Green 10 group of leading environmental NGOs. A letter to the EU formalised opposition on the 1st December, with a plea to “carefully analyse” the benefits of a circular economy, from member states Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.
For further information on the Circular Economy click here