The new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP)

On 11th Μarch 2020 the European Commission presented a new Circular Economy Action Plan For a cleaner and more competitive Europe

The plan presents a set of interrelated initiatives to establish a strong and coherent product policy framework that will make sustainable products, services and business models the norm and transform consumption patterns so that no waste is produced in the first place. This product policy framework will be progressively rolled out, while key product value chains will be addressed as a matter of priority. Further measures will be put in place to reduce waste and ensure that the EU has a well-functioning internal market for high quality secondary raw materials. The capacity of the EU to take responsibility for its waste will be also strengthened.

 In order to make products fit for a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy, reduce waste and ensure that the performance of front-runners in sustainability progressively becomes the norm, the Commission will propose a sustainable product policy legislative initiative. The core of this legislative initiative will be to widen the Ecodesign Directive beyond energy-related products so as to make the Ecodesign framework applicable to the broadest possible range of products and make it deliver on circularity.

The amount of materials used for packaging is growing continuously and in 2017 packaging waste in Europe reached a record 173 kg per inhabitant, the highest level ever. In order to ensure that all packaging on the EU market is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, the Commission will review Directive 94/62  to reinforce the mandatory essential requirements for packaging to be allowed on the EU market and consider other measures, with a focus on:

reducing (over)packaging and packaging waste, including by setting targets and other waste prevention measures;

driving design for re-use and recyclability of packaging, including considering restrictions on the use of some packaging materials for certain applications, in particular where alternative reusable products or systems are possible or consumer goods can be handled safely without packaging;

considering reducing the complexity of packaging materials, including the number of materials and polymers used.

As part of the initiative to harmonise separate collection systems, the Commission will assess the feasibility of EU-wide labelling that facilitates the correct separation of packaging waste at source. The Commission will also establish rules for the safe recycling into food contact materials of plastic materials other than PET.

The Commission will also strictly monitor and support the implementation of the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive to make drinkable tap water accessible in public places, which will reduce dependence on bottled water and prevent packaging waste.

To increase uptake of recycled plastics and contribute to the more sustainable use of plastics, the Commission will propose mandatory requirements for recycled content and waste reduction measures for key products such as packaging, construction materials and vehicles, also taking into account the activities of the Circular Plastics Alliance.

Furthermore, the Commission will address emerging sustainability challenges by developing a policy framework on:

sourcing, labelling and use of bio-based plastics, based on assessing where the use of bio-based feedstock results in genuine environmental benefits, going beyond reduction in using fossil resources;
use of biodegradable or compostable plastics, based on an assessment of the applications where such use can be beneficial to the environment, and of the criteria for such applications. It will aim to ensure that labelling a product as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’ does not mislead consumers to dispose of it in a way that causes plastic littering or pollution due to unsuitable environmental conditions or insufficient time for degradation.

The Commission will ensure the timely implementation of the new Directive on Single Use Plastic Products and fishing gear to address the problem of marine plastic pollution while safeguarding the single market, in particular with regard to:

harmonised interpretation of the products covered by the Directive;
labelling of products such as tobacco, beverage cups and wet wipes and ensuring the introduction of tethered caps for bottles to prevent littering;
developing for the first time rules on measuring recycled content in products.

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