EU Commission circular economy package is waste of a year

The new circular economy package has some positives, but lacks the elements needed to implement systemic change, argues Josu Juaristi Abaunz.

By Josu Juaristi Abaunz

01 Feb 2016

Last December, the European Commission finally presented its long-awaited circular economy package.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's team claimed, again and again, that it was 'more comprehensive and ambitious' than its withdrawn predecessor - as if simply repeating the words would make it so.

In my opinion, the college's assessment of its package is far from justified. The proposals lack ambition in terms of their objectives, but also in terms of measures and implementation, in a way that reduces their potential to drive a systemic change.


Yet systemic change is what we really need in order to transition from a linear to a truly circular economy.

The legislative package does have some positive elements - there is no doubt about it - but I honestly think that we have wasted a year since it was initially presented and later withdrawn. Generally, it is less ambitious on waste management, prevention, reuse and recycling targets - to name a few.

Places such as Gipuzkoa (Basque country), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Contarina (Italy), have shown it is perfectly possible to achieve recycling rates of 70 per cent, as well as a substantial reduction of waste in under 10 years - all while creating jobs.

Therefore, it could have been completely feasible for the Commission to present more ambitious targets in December.

Regarding incineration, the legislative package clearly states there will be investment in incinerators that are not absolutely justified, and that new ones would only be built 'in exceptional cases'.

This is a good thing, but it makes no sense that some of the action plan's measures have wide timeframes, and that given the experiences described, the objectives of prevention, reuse, selective collection of biowaste and recycling have not been taken into account with greater ambition. We can do so much more.