Circular economy: "Waste from one industry should become raw material for another," say S&Ds

Circular economy: "Waste from one industry should become raw material for another," say S&Ds, Massimo Paolucci, resource efficiency, recovery, reuse and recycling, sustainability, Kathleen Van Brempt, product design and manufacturing, Matthias Groote,

Around 600 million tonnes of waste that could be reused are just thrown away in Europe every year. The European Union is working on new legislation to transform this waste into new resources that can be reintroduced into the production chain.

The environment committee in the European Parliament today voted on a proposal to move from the current economic system based on a linear sequence – where we extract, make, sell, use and throw away – to a new system in which waste from one industry becomes raw material for another.

Massimo Paolucci, the S&D shadow rapporteur on the circular economy, said:

"With today's vote we made an important step towards the new progressive concept of a circular economy. Factors such as resource efficiency, recovery, reuse and recycling of materials will become key elements of the production processes.

"Rather than being just an opportunity, a circular economy is a necessity for Europe. The challenge to compete in the global economy will more and more depend on innovation and sustainability. Investing in the quality of our lifestyles and our ecosystems is key to building a new development model, capable of creating jobs and well-being."

S&D vice-president Kathleen Van Brempt said:

"We expect the Commission to come up with a new circular economy package that entails the full circle, focusing not only on the waste stage but also on product design and manufacturing.

"The waste management hierarchy (prevention > reuse > material recycling > energy recovery > landfill) has to be completed with a resource management hierarchy that indicates how materials have to be incorporated in design and production: prevention > reuse > secondary raw materials > renewable primary raw materials > non-renewable primary raw materials.

"This will limit the exports of secondary raw materials outside Europe and will enable us to close material loops within the EU. To this end the eco-design directive must be reformed."

Matthias Groote, S&D spokesperson on the environment, said:

"The European Commission should introduce binding targets for the reduction of municipal and industrial waste by 2025. Moreover, separate collection systems for paper, metal, plastic, glass and compost waste should be introduced wherever they are not already present.

"Every year more than 56 million tonnes of plastic are used in the EU and only 26% of plastic waste is recycled. The rest is burned, ends up on landfills or in the ocean. As social democrats we pushed for a mandatory target of a 50% reduction in marine pollution by 2025, and we will keep insisting that this is compulsory."