The European Union produces more than 2.2 billion tonnes of waste every year. It is currently updating its legislation on waste management to promote a shift to a more sustainable model known as the circular economy.
The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.
In March 2020, the European Commission presented the circular economy action plan, which aims to promote more sustainable product design, reduce waste and empower consumers, for example by creating aright to repair). There is a focus on resource intensive sectors, such as electronics and ICT, plastics, textiles and construction.
In February 2021, the Parliament adopted a resolution on the new circular economy action plan demanding additional measures to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050, including tighter recycling rules and binding targets for materials use and consumption by 2030.
In March 2022, the Commission released the first package of measures to speed up the transition towards a circular economy, as part of the circular economy action plan. The proposals include boosting sustainable products, empowering consumers for the green transition, reviewing construction product regulation, and creating a strategy on sustainable textiles.
In November 2022, the Commission proposed new EU-wide rules on packaging. It aims to reduce packaging waste and improve packaging design, with for example clear labelling to promote reuse and recycling; and calls for a transition to bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics.
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