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Council adopts ban on #SingleUsePlastics



The EU is cracking down on plastic pollution. The Council has adopted a directive which introduces new restrictions on certain single-use plastic products.

The formal adoption of the new rules by the Council today is the final step in the procedure.

The single-use plastics directive builds on the EU's existing waste legislation but goes further by setting stricter rules for those types of products and packaging which are among the top ten most frequently found items polluting European beaches. The new rules ban the use of certain throwaway plastic products for which alternatives exist. In addition, specific measures are introduced to reduce the use of the most frequently littered plastic products.

Single-use plastic products are made wholly or partly of plastic and are typically intended to be used just once or for a short period of time before they are thrown away. One of the main purposes of this directive is to reduce the amount of plastic waste which we create. Under the new rules, single-use plastic plates, cutlery, straws, balloon sticks and cotton buds will be banned by 2021.

Member states have agreed to achieve a 90% collection target for plastic bottles by 2029, and plastic bottles will have to contain at least 25% of recycled content by 2025 and 30% by 2030.


The Commission presented its proposal for a directive in May 2018. The Council reached its position on 31 October 2018. Negotiations with the European Parliament started on 6 November 2018 and ended in a provisional agreement on 19 December 2018, which was confirmed by EU ambassadors of the member states on 18 January 2019.

The formal adoption of the new rules by the Council today is the final step in the procedure.

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Circular economy

Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference: Together for a cleaner and more competitive Europe



The Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference  - the main annual conference dedicated to circular economy in Europe, gathering decision makers, businesses, public authorities, NGOs, knowledge communities and civil society organizations - is taking place online. A joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee, the focus of this year's event will be on the potential of the circular economy for a green recovery and how the numerous initiatives under the recently adopted second Circular Economy Action Plan, can help build a more resilient economy.

Opening the debate, European Green Deal Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans said: “COVID-19 has underlined the urgency of stopping the destruction of our natural environment and exposed the fragility of the current economic model. Circular economy is the model of the future, for Europe and the world. It brings balance back in our relationship with nature and reduces our vulnerability to disruptions in global, complex supply chains. With circular production and consumption we can create a healthy and resilient economy for decades to come.”

Launching the online #EUCircularTalks, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “The time has come to accelerate the green transition and bring the circular economy to the mainstream. Half of the greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress come from resource extraction and processing. To respond to these challenges, we have adopted a new, most ambitious EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Its initiatives will help us build back better and create new business opportunities, to the benefit of EU our citizens and the environment.”

The sessions  will cover a wide range of topics, including the role of consumers and tackling green claims; making sustainable products the norm; constructions and buildings; the importance of research and innovation; the links with our skills agenda – to name just a few. The event also features the European Business Awards for the Environment ceremony – EU scheme celebrating those businesses leading the transition to a sustainable economy. It recognises businesses in the categories of management, product & services; process; developing country co-operation; and business & biodiversity. More information is available here.

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Circular economy

#CircularEconomy - 'With a new impetus for sustainable development'



The COVID-19 crisis has created the conditions for circular products and services to become the norm in Europe, says the EESC. In a recent opinion on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan, the EESC urges lawmakers to ensure the circular economy finds a place and resources in the overall "greenprint" for Europe's recovery.

"The COVID-19 crisis can be a great opportunity to start up again with new impetus for sustainable development," said Antonello Pezzini, rapporteur for the EESC opinion on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan, adopted at the July plenary session.

The vision of circular products and services becoming the norm, which was behind the plan put forward by the European Commission back in March as COVID-19 was looming, is becoming more tangible as the crisis unfolds. "With the new Action Plan, the circular economy can really become a pillar of the Green New Deal," said the rapporteur.

The Action Plan takes in much of the advice already pioneered by the EESC in its 2016 opinion on the first Circular Economy Package, particularly in areas such as eco-design, reparability, premature obsolescence and secondary raw materials, and as such is very welcome. However, broader measures will also be needed, in the EESC's view.

The soft side of the Circular Economy

A real circular economy culture needs to be nourished, argues the EESC. Taxation should shift from labour to resources and imported products that flout circular economy principles. Wealth should be measured through criteria which go beyond GDP.

The current systems used to calculate GDP (based on either expenditure, production or income) are an expression of the old "take-make-use-dispose" mentality. The EESC suggests using new elements other than economic performance, such as:

  • Creating solidarity-based systems for an inclusive society;
  • living within the limits of our planet, and;
  • a fair distribution of resources.

Softer aspects such as education will be key to fostering the new mindset and encouraging people to change their daily habits and behaviour, in the EESC's view.

Advertising should also be encouraged to move away from consumerism and present long-lasting, reusable goods as being of value to the consumer and society, urges the EESC.

The future of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform

The European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, which was set up jointly by the EESC and the previous European Commission, could support many of the actions outlined in the new Action Plan.

The Platform is an inter-institutional initiative, launched by the EESC and the Commission in 2017. This three-year period has seen three well-attended joint annual conferences, a Coordination Group that has delivered 50 initiatives, and a website that has received over 230 000 visitors, brought together over 350 Good Practices, 33 Strategies and a Knowledge Hub with more than 200 publications. The Platform has an active presence on social media with over 2 400 Twitter followers, and has recently established a presence on LinkedIn.

The Platform, which is intended to encourage the exchange of circular economy knowledge and know-how, should therefore continue under the new Plan and become the go-to resource for circular economy players in Europe, urges the EESC. It has, in fact, just published a Call for Expression of Interest for a Coordination Group for the new mandate starting in Autumn 2020.

"The Circular Economy Platform has been at the forefront of circular economy implementation and policy design across the EU. It has taken on a very strong leadership role in this area" says opinion co-rapporteur Cillian Lohan. "We are confident that it will continue to serve a very useful purpose in the future".


The new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) proposed by the European Commission in March 2020 sets out a series of new initiatives covering the entire cycle of product design and lifespan to enable both individuals and businesses to play a role in the circular economy.

The plan includes some 35 measures over a three-year period (mid-2020 to mid-2023) to:

  • Make sustainable products the norm in the EU;
  • empower consumers with access to reliable information and a true "right to repair", and;
  • focus on the sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high, such as electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, waste.

    Currently, only 8.6% of global activities operate on circular principles.

According the World Economic Forum, in 2019, over 92 billion tonnes of materials were extracted and processed, contributing to about half of global CO2 emissions. UNDP says resource extraction and processing accounts for more than 90% of global biodiversity loss.

Businesses and consumers are increasingly recognizing the damage caused by linear economic models, which rely heavily on resource consumption and involve the use of premature obsolescence techniques, encouraging people to constantly buy new products.

VIDEO: Europe at work

The European Economic and Social Committee is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. It represents the various economic and social components of organized civil society. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process.

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Circular economy

Commission presents guidelines on waste management in the #Coronavirus crisis



The Commission has published guidelines to support member states in their waste management in these difficult times of coronavirus. The continuity in providing those services also during the coronavirus crisis is crucial for our health, for the environment, and for the economy.

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “In this unprecedented crisis, we are working with the member states and waste operators across the EU to address the challenge of ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment. Proper waste management is part of the essential services underpinning the well-being of our citizens, delivered by numerous companies dealing with waste and keeping the circular economy going.”

The Commission recognizes the efforts of waste management operators to ensure the continuity of proper waste management and handling the increased volume of households' and medical waste. To support them in these efforts, the Commission provides guidelines on the management of municipal waste, management of waste from healthcare facilities, and on the health and safety of waste management operators and their workers.

The guidelines can be found here.

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