Renewable Matter # 26 / March-April

The Circular Economy Makes Progress, Climate Actions Stall

by Francesco Petrucci

The Action Plan for the Circular Economy launched in December 2015 can be regarded as complete, or at least in the process of being completed. According to what has been declared in the EU Report divulged on 4thMarch 2019, the 54 actions envisaged by the Plan have either been implemented or are being implemented. The Plan implementation accelerated the transition towards a circular economy in Europe while promoting employment (+6% compared to 2012 in the circular economy sectors). In 2016, it generated almost €147 billion in added value, with investments of nearly €17.5 billion in circular activities such as repairing, reusing and recycling.

The Action Plan for the Circular Economy includes approval of the directives on waste in force as of 4th July 2019, regulation on fertilizers pushing for recovery of organic waste, agreed on 12th December 2018. Furthermore, the Strategy on plastics of January 2018 produced the directive on single-use plastics now being submitted for final approval (after the agreement of 18th January 2019), and the voluntary pledging campaign on the subject (Circular Plastic Alliance), launched by the Commission and subscribed to by over 70 businesses. All of which will make the recycled plastic market soar by +60% by 2025. Lastly, on 25th February 2019 an agreement on the draft regulation introducing low carbon parameters to be applied to financial tools was reached. This will guide consumers towards green investment products.

It remains to be seen how to foster the market towards circular products, since in 2016 only 12% of used material resources in the EU came from recycled products and recovered materials (Eurostat data 4th March 2019).

While Europe may be satisfied with the actions pushing the circular economy, actions to reduce greenhouse gases are less fitting. The European Commission launched on 28th November 2018 the long-term European Strategy to fight global warming, but proposals have been deemed insufficient by the EU parliament; according to which greenhouse gases should be reduced by 55% by 2030 (the Commission’s target is 40%), in order to achieve zero balance emissions by 2050 as laid down in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Good news on the climate from Eurostat (February 2019 data): between 2008 and 2016 there was a general reduction (-26%) of total emissions of acidifying gases produced by EU companies. 

Meanwhile, on 24th December 2018, the new EU regulation on energy governance and the new EU directives on renewables and energy efficiency came into force. Objective of these directives: renewables to 32% and efficiency to 32.5% by 2030, and transposition by member States by 30th June 2021.

The European Chemicals Agency updated its format to apply for authorisation of chemicals according to REACH regulations. New measures will come into force on 1st June 2019. Still regarding REACH, on 7th July 2020 phthalates marketing restrictions and bans will come into force as provided for by Regulation EU 2005/2018. As of 1st January 2020, REACH regulations on nanomaterials (EU Regulation 1881/2018) will come into force. 

Whereas, on 31st January 2019, Regulation EU 37/2019 came into force, updating substances that can be used in plastic materials coming into contact with food. Materials compliant with old regulations can be marketed until 31st January 2020 and stay on the market while stocks last. 

Quality certifications were also updated. On 19th December 2018, “good environmental practices” were passed for EMAS certification for cars and electrical and electronic equipment (EC Decision 62/2019 and EU Decision 63/2019), while EU Regulation 2026/2018 updated EMAS environmental declaration for certified companies.

Another update involved ecological criteria to obtain EU Ecolabel for graphic paper and tissue paper (EU Decision 70/2019).

As far as electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) manufacturers are concerned, EU Regulation 290/2019 introduced a common format to register producers of EEEs and yearly communication of marketed items. Last but not least, on 1st March 2020 ten directives (from EU 169/2019 to EU 178/2019) will come into force, still allowing the use of lead and cadmium in a series of appliances, a derogation from the general ban introduced by the relevant 2011 directive. 

 

 

Circular Plastic Alliance https://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/policy/circular-plastics-alliance_en

Newsletter Subscription