Recycling Rises on European Agenda With 40 Measures Planned

(Bloomberg) -- Recycling is rising on the agenda in the European Union, with officials drafting more than a dozen laws to strengthen a “circular economy” that will use more of its discarded fibers, metals and plastics.

The effort is part of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s Green Deal, a sweeping package of reforms aimed at zeroing out greenhouse gas pollution by the middle of the century.

Measures including some 40 regulatory initiatives are due to be published on March 10. They’re aimed at making manufacturers mindful of their environmental footprint and promoting consumer behavior that would prevent turning the planet into a trash dump.

“We only have one planet, yet by 2050, the world will consume as if we had two,” the commission said in a draft of the strategy due to be published on March 10 and seen by Bloomberg News. “In a world where material use is expected to double by 2060, Europe must use resources more efficiently and increase the amount sourced from recycling.”

The commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan will recommend a more efficient use of resources and increase recycling, calling the measures “imperative” for Europe. It points out that half of the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of its biodiversity loss come from extraction and processing materials, fuels and food.

The effort would also help reduce emissions, since Europe is so dependent on imports of materials and energy. The commission has a policy of not commenting on draft documents. The new laws suggested in the draft that would be adopted over the next two years include:

  • a policy on sustainable products
  • eco-design work plan that would encompass requirements on durability, reparability and recyclability of products
  • eco-design measures on printers and cartridges, and possibly on common charger
  • revision of the rules on industrial emissions
  • review of the EU law on packaging and packaging waste
  • report on feasibility of setting waste reduction targets
  • new rules for batteries to define criteria for sustainability and recycled content
  • measures to reduce unintentional release of microplastics
  • strategy to stimulate market for sustainable and circular textiles
  • reward system to return or sell back consumer electronics, such as old mobile phones, charges, PCs and laptops

As part of the strategy, the EU help provide consumers with information on durability and reparability of the products they purchase. Officials are looking at how to prevent “greenwashing and planned obsolescence practices” where sellers make products with a limited life, hoping to boost sales through replacements. It will also seek to close its market to products that aren’t safe and circular, setting minimum sustainability requirements.

Up to 90% of companies’ impact on the environment come from values chains and up to 80% of products’ environmental impacts are determined at the design phase,” according to the document. “European consumers and businesses deserve quality products that are designed to last and to perform efficiently.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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