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Why Sustainable SMEs hold the Key to the Circular Economy

Why Sustainable SMEs hold the Key to the Circular Economy

ecopreneur.eu
Author: 
Arthur ten Wolde, Josefine Koehler
Publication Date: 
09/2021
Country: 
Belgium

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SMEs hold the key to the circular economy. Their innovation potential to introduce and mainstream sustainable business models is blocked by many obstacles such as lack of demand, additional costs, and the complexity of circular design.

To unleash their full potential and realise the European Green Deal’s objectives, Ecopreneur.eu recommends: launching regional circularity hubs, active engagement of ecopreneurs as front-runners, true pricing using economic incentives, 100% green implementation of the European Recovery Plan, introducing innovation funding and subsidies that are attractive to SMEs, and enacting progressive EU legislation such as a mandatory gate-to-gate Life Cycle Assessment for all companies.

Click here for the Executive Summary.

Enhancing the Sustainability of Batteries: A Joint NGO Position Paper on the EU Battery Regulation Proposal

enhancing_the_sustainabilitys_of_batteries
Author: 
Philipp Sommer, DUH, Rita Tedesco, ECOS, Piotr Barczak, EEB, Alex Keynes, T&E
Publication Date: 
03/2021
Country: 
Germany

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In December 2020, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on batteries and waste batteries (Battery Regulation). In this position paper, environmental civil society organisations (Environmental Coalition on Standards, Transport & Environment, Deutsche Umwelthilfe and the European Environmental Bureau) go through the measures proposed by the European Commission and point out aspects that are either overlooked or should be improved.

Avis sur le projet de Plan d'action fédéral pour une économie circulaire

Response to the Belgian Federal Action Plan on the Circular Economy

FRDO CFDD logo
Author: 
Federal Council for Sustainable Development (Belgium)
Publication Date: 
07/2021
Country: 
EU

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The Federal Council for Sustainable Development Belgium has issued a formal response to the Federal Belgian Action Plan on the Circular Economy. The council addressed issues regarding the substance and procedure of the action plan.

Procedural issues include the vagueness of the plan's exact intentions and deadlines as well as the lack of a better governance mechanism. Substantive issues include:

  • more focus needed on the social challenges associated with the introduction of a circular economy
  • more focus on the impact on the climate of increasing digitalisation
  • recycling of critical metals, and
  • importance of removing all known barriers (regulatory, fiscal, financial, etc.) to the circular transition.

Strengthening circularity in photovoltaics - Challenges and opportunities along the lifecycle

White paper: Strengthening circularity in photovoltaics

Deutsche Umwelthilfe

Every year, huge numbers of photovoltaic (PV) modules are being installed. This solar energy expansion greatly furthers the ecological transformation of the energy system. But to solve the climate crisis every aspect has to be taken into consideration. This is why this white paper wants to shine light on challenges currently occuring or to be expected in connection with used photovoltaic modules and their disposal in Germany.

To better implement the goals of a circular economy, this paper will retrace the steps in the lifecycle of a photovoltaic module and analyse problems and possible solutions along these stages. After a brief description of the occuring challenges, opportunities and solutions deemed to be effective and sensible in these matters are presented.

ROOTS - circular policies for changing the biowaste system

CirculaR pOlicies for changing the biOwasTe System (ROOTS): a position paper

ROOTS
Author: 
HOOP, ValueWaste, Scalibur, WaysTUP!
Publication Date: 
05/2021
Country: 
Greece

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4 Horizon 2020 projects working on biowaste valorisation have teamed up to promote innovative solutions for the circular bioeconomy. This joint initiative is named ROOTS-circulaR pOlicies for changing the biOwasTe System. The projects - HOOP, ValueWaste, Scalibur and WaysTUP - are piloting new solutions to transform urban biowaste and wastewater into valuable products like Feed, Fertilisers, Bioplastics, Biopesticides, Proteins and Bioethanol.

The promoters have discussed their views and shared their concerns on policy barriers hindering innovations that lead to the Circular Economy for urban biowaste. As a result of the discussion, 4 focus topics have been singled out, accompanied by proposed solutions, that will constitute the key messages and be addressed in future initiatives.

Critical Raw Materials: civil society calls for firm and fast action to secure supply and maintain a strong industrial base in the EU

Critical Raw Materials: civil society calls for firm and fast action to secure supply and maintain a strong industrial base in the EU

Critical Raw Materials
Author: 
European Economic and Social Committee, Consultative Commission on Industrial Change
Publication Date: 
05/2021
Country: 
EU

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The EESC and CCMI believe that the present/future of critical raw materials resilience is of essential concern to EU's organised civil society. For this reason, and because the CEAP represents a step forward with a clear roadmap for initiatives and actions, the EESC recommends that the Parliament and the Council support this approach.

The EESC position concerns 6 main objectives:

  • Supporting sustainable primary sourcing in Europe
  • Fostering secondary sourcing from waste and circular reuse
  • Maintaining extractive and processing capacities in the EU
  • Investing in activities that can foster substitution
  • Diversifying trading partners and supporting developing countries
  • A more frequent review of the critical raw materials list.

The Italian 'Circular Consumption Charter' - a practical approach to empowering consumers

Circular Consumption Charter
position
Author: 
Italian Consumer associations
Publication Date: 
06/2021
Country: 
Italy

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18 Italian Consumer Associations sponsored by Eni have identified the challenges to be tackled and the actions to be implemented in order to empower consumers for the circular economy transition in a document titled Circular Consumption Charter.

According to the Charter, circular consumption should be:

  1. Educated, conscious
  2. Transparent
  3. Properly informed 
  4. Ongoing comparative
  5. Balanced
  6. Multiple lifetime
  7. Shared and collaborative
  8. Increasingly digital
  9. Inclusive green
  10. Accessible
  11. Moderate, non-wasteful

 Proposed actions

  1. Circular education pathways
  2. Labelling handbook
  3. Circular product digital data sheet
  4. Circular incentives
  5. Physical platforms
  6. Digital platform
  7. Monitoring and disseminating

For more information click here.

Circular textiles - Knitting the way to a sustainable future

Circular textiles: Knitting the way to a sustainable future

Eurocities logo

Textiles are an important issue for cities, as people generate more and more textile waste. City authorities are required to provide for separate collection of used textiles but have limited ways of putting the waste generated to good use.

Eurocities’ paper on circular textiles is published ahead of the Commission's new Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, planned for autumn 2021, to help the EU shift to a climate-neutral, circular economy (CE) where products are designed to be more durable, reusable, repairable, recyclable and energy-efficient. It focuses on a sustainable recovery of the textile sector from the Covid-19 crisis by:

  • making it more competitive,
  • applying CE principles to production, waste management, etc.
  • and directing investment, research and innovation.

Recommendations for the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles from Environmental Civil Society Organisations

Environmental CSOs' Recommendations for the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles

Environmental CSOs' Recommendations for the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles
Author: 
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
Publication Date: 
06/2021
Country: 
Belgium

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This joint position paper from the Wardrobe Change coalition contains recommendations for the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles. It has been signed by 25 civil society organisations. The paper sets out recommendations structured around four overarching principles:

  • Make sustainable textile products the norm
  • Drive resource-sufficient textile consumption
  • Leave the linear business model behind
  • Hold the EU textile industry responsible for its role in the world.

The Interreg MED Green Growth Community (GGC): How can eco-innovation drive circularity in the Mediterranean?

Eco-Innovation
Collection of articles
Author: 
Marta Castillo Sánchez
Publication Date: 
04/2021
Country: 
Spain

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The term "eco-innovation" basically boils down to innovation. What does eco-innovation really mean? And what is the link between eco-innovation and a more circular economy, particularly in the Mediterranean region?

A wide range of initiatives and programmes point towards innovation being key to enabling green growth. Eco-innovation and the circular economy: are they two sides of the same coin?

It is becoming clearer - and more urgent - every day that we need to abandon the linear economy. The climate emergency together with the economic crisis that the region is experiencing makes a transition based on eco-innovation a priority for a more sustainable future for the Mediterranean.

Read the full article here.

Achieving a fair and inclusive circular transition through the EU Social Economy Action Plan

RREUSE: achieving a fair and inclusive circular transition through the EU Social Economy Action Plan

RREUSE logo
Author: 
Julija Kekstaite - Policy Officer RREUSE
Publication Date: 
03/2021
Country: 
Belgium

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RREUSE welcomes the European Commission’s proposal to develop a favourable policy environment for social economy actors, calling for an ambitious Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP) that would provide a policy toolbox enabling a green, fair and circular transition in the post-COVID economic recovery. In order to establish a sustainable EU socio-economic environment and maximise the SEAP’s potential, RREUSE seeks to put forward the following recommendations on four priority areas:

  1. Mainstream the social economy within circular policies and beyond
  2. Recognise the real value of social enterprises active in the circular economy
  3. Improve access to funding for social enterprises
  4. Acknowledge social enterprises’ role in (up)skilling to meet changing market needs.

White paper on Pathways for Extended Producer Responsibility on the road to a Circular Economy

Pathways for Extended Producer Responsibility on the road to a Circular Economy

Utrecht University
Author: 
W.J.V. Vermeulena, C.W. Backes, M.C.J. de Munck, K. Campbell-Johnston, I.M. de Waal, J. Rosales Carreon, M.N. Boeve
Publication Date: 
03/2021
Country: 
Netherlands

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The Circular Economy and Society Hub of Utrecht University has prepared a white paper analysing the key strengths and weaknesses of the way in which Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is organised in the Netherlands. Based on this analysis, it then sets out three pathways for improving EPR with a view to enabling it to contribute to the circular economy goals:

  1. Optimising EPR as an instrument for post-user circularity
  2. Re-designing EPR as an instrument for circular economy transformations
  3. Beyond EPR: other means of support.

 

 

GLOPACK: radio frequency identification can help prevent your fridge spawning furry science experiments

Glopack logo
Author: 
Viktória Parrag, Zsófia Kertész
Publication Date: 
02/2021
Country: 
France

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The GLOPACK (Granting society with LOw environmental impact innovative PACKaging) project aims to come up with food packaging which has no environmental footprint and can extend the shelf life of food products.

This paper explores the applications of Radio frequency identification (RFID), a promising technology that can identify articles much more efficiently than barcodes. One of the project's areas of interest is RFID-enabled wireless food spoilage indicators linked to food date labels.

RFID technology can help reduce waste (consumers can use it to check the quality of the food in their fridge) and increase recycling (it is good for mass identifying items quickly, which is helpful in a recycling facility).

Leading the Carpet Industry towards Circular Economy - a 2030 Strategic Approach

Leading the Carpet Industry towards the Circular Economy - a 2030 Strategic Approach

ECRA
Author: 
The European Carpet and Rug Association
Publication Date: 
01/2021
Country: 
Belgium

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The European Carpet and Rug Association (ECRA) welcomes the European Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 and believes in its ability to accelerate the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

In its support of the European Commission's strategy, the carpet and rug industry would like to present its ambition for a robust and consistent shift to a circular economy.

ECRA's strategic document “Leading the carpet industry towards circular economy – a 2030 strategic approach“ presents realistic objectives and adequate measures to guide an orderly shift to full circularity and a low carbon industry.

Framing the Circular Economy as an EU recovery opportunity

Framing the Circular Economy as an EU recovery opportunity

CEPS logo
Author: 
Vasileios Rizos, Milan Elkerbout, Christian Egenhofer, Jorge Núñez Ferrer
Publication Date: 
12/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Recovery from the Covid-19 crisis presents an important and unique opportunity for the EU to accelerate its transition towards a climate-neutral and circular economy. While there is little dispute about the opportunities offered by the funds available for the low-carbon and circular economy, the longer-term impact on Europe’s decarbonisation trajectory will depend on the choices made in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans and on how the overall policy framework is adapted.

After describing the EU recovery plan, this paper discusses various policy instruments – both new and existing – to create demand for circular materials and lower-carbon products, illustrated by examples of four resource and carbon-intensive sectors, namely construction, steel, textiles and plastics.

Packaging & packaging waste - Making waste a resource

Eurocities

In its position paper, Eurocities aims at contributing to the revision of the EU legislation on packaging and packaging waste by making proposals on:

  • packaging design (to facilitate separate sorting by citizens, and further dismantling for reuse or recycling, i.e. less complexity in packaging materials)
  • compostable/biodegradable plastic packaging (citizens cannot distinguish between biodegradable/compostable and more ‘conventional’ ones; the Commission should assess if this packaging can benefit the environment or create more littering and hamper waste collection, reuse and recycling)
  • reuse and recycling (new legislation should consider EU-wide mandatory labelling to identify packaging as reusable, recyclable or compostable) and
  • extending the EPR schemes.

 

Circular economy and the Covid-19 recovery

Circular economy and the Covid-19 recovery

The circular economy and the Covid-19 recovery published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation shows how policymakers can pave the way towards a low-carbon and prosperous economic recovery. The paper highlights 10 circular investment opportunities across five key sectors:

  1. the built environment
  2. mobility
  3. plastic packaging
  4. food and
  5. fashion.

Addressing the growing calls for a recovery response that is in alignment with other global challenges, these specifically selected opportunities all optimise the use and circulation of assets, materials and nutrients. As governments take the critical action necessary to safeguard national economies and work towards a transformation that is resilient to future global risks, the circular economy has never been more relevant.

IALD Position Paper on Circular Economy: good lighting doesn't just happen... it's designed

IALD
Author: 
The International Association of Lighting Designers
Publication Date: 
09/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Following the publication of the Circular Economy Action Plan in March 2020, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) recently released a position paper to help ensure that any future regulations reflect the needs and aspirations of the lighting design profession.

The paper also addresses the impact of changes in the value chains of the lighting sector as a result of embracing circular economy - be it by creating second-hand markets or by adopting lighting as a service business model.

In its conclusion, the paper describes how lighting manufacturers, designers, contractors and clients could work together to ensure that the benefits of the circular economy can be achieved.

The European Manufacturers of Electrical Machines and Power Electronics are committed to Circular Economy

CEMEP
Author: 
CEMEP
Publication Date: 
07/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Contact: 
Jesper Jerlang
Didier Gufflet

The European Committee of Manufacturers of Electrical Machines and Power Electronics (CEMEP) supports the development towards a circular economy (CE), thus actively contributing to more sustainable manufacturing and responsible consumption. This industrial sector follows a business-to-business market model, delivering products for a wide number of economic sectors and applications. 

Its three main product groups – electric motors, variable speed drives and uninterruptable power systems – show differences and similarities when it comes to material efficiency, hence the need for sector- or product-specific approaches when pursuing CE.

This position paper describes the CE status of the CEMEP industries and the way forward towards more circularity.

Make circular economy simpler, more efficient and more competitive

Interreg MED
Author: 
Interreg Med Green Growth Community
Publication Date: 
09/2020
Country: 
EU, Spain

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Contact: 
Patricia Carbonell

This document is the result of the active involvement of the Interreg MED Green Growth community, together with its projects.

To make circular economy (CE) simpler, more efficient and more competitive, it is suggested to take a holistic, integrated and cooperative approach, by considering all phases in which CE is structured, all levels (from local to European) and all stakeholders involved in the implementation of CE models.

The policy recommendations proposed in the document are structured into six main areas:

  1. Investments and access to finance
  2. Technological infrastructure
  3. Labour market and employment
  4. Awareness and knowledge
  5. Cooperation among stakeholders and technology transfer
  6. Cross-cutting issues.

Circular Economy Action Plan - Speeding up the green transition of the EU’s economy

Circular economy offers a path to sustainable recovery

The post-COVID-19 recovery plan should be extensive, as the effects of the pandemic on people and economy have, in many cases, been devastating. The recovery plan must also fully support the green transition to guarantee resilience over the long term.

The circular economy has the potential to raise EU GDP by billions of euros, and create around 700,000 extra jobs by 2030. With this in mind, the economic approach should be an integral part of that recovery. It is one of the messages of a new EUROCITIES policy statement on the EU Circular Economy Action Plan that sets out how cities, as significant engines for economic growth, can drive the circular economy to unlock economic, environmental and social benefits.

The role of chemical distributors in a more circular economy

The role of chemical distributors in a more circular economy

Author: 
Fecc
Publication Date: 
07/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Contact: 
Elias Rito

The European Association of Chemical Distributors (Fecc) acknowledges the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) and supports the initiative for a more sustainable approach by ensuring that used resources are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.

However, on behalf of the European chemical distribution sector, particularly the numerous SMEs it represents, Fecc would like to raise the following points:

  • increasing recycled content in products while ensuring their performance and safety is paramount
  • stakeholders from across the board – private companies, academia, and public bodies – can all benefit from circularity in the distribution sector
  • promoting circular public procurement to empower consumers and public buyers is necessary and must be supported post-COVID-19.

The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture position paper - Unwanted toxic flame retardants preventing circularity and increasing fire toxicity

The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture states its position: Unwanted toxic flame retardants prevent circularity and increase fire toxicity

Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture
Author: 
The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture
Publication Date: 
04/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Contact: 
Gabriella Kemendi
Giorgia Murgia

The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture welcomes the new Circular Economy Action Plan and calls on EU institutions to address the unnecessary use of chemicals preventing circularity and the achievement of climate goals, such as toxic flame retardants in furniture, which endanger people’s and firefighters’ health as they migrate out of products and can lead to increased fire toxicity.

The use of such retardants is a historical, hazardous and ineffective practice which is not proven to reduce the number of fires. It is at odds with circularity objectives and their presence in furniture runs counter to the ambition to introduce and increase circularity.

Ensuring fire safety is a must, but it needs to be done in ways that are not hazardous.

EFIC Position paper: The Furniture sector and Circular Economy 2.0

The furniture sector and Circular Economy 2.0: the European Furniture Industries Confederation shares its views

Author: 
EFIC - European Furniture Industries Confederation
Publication Date: 
04/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Furniture

Scope:

Contact: 
Gabriella Kemendi
Giorgia Murgia

From a “circular” point of view, the wide range of products considered to be "furniture" and the diverse use of materials in production (e.g. wood, plastics, textile, steel, glass, composites, foam) makes it a complex area to address.

The European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC) has drawn up a position paper that identifies challenges and opportunities linked to the circular economy transition, covering the different phases of manufacturing from supply of materials to the end-of-life phase, and that provides sector-specific expertise on EU Circular Economy policies.

The European furniture industries are ready to work together with EU institutions to create suitable tools for the sector, enabling it to move in the right direction.

Source: EFIC

Civil Society European Strategy for Sustainable Textile, Garments, Leather and Footwear

Civil Society European Strategy for Sustainable Textile, Garments, Leather and Footwear

A broad coalition of social and environmental NGOs has developed a Civil Society European Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, Garments, Leather and Footwear, looking at the social, environmental and governance implications of the textile sector in one forward-looking document ahead of the comprehensive EU Strategy for Textiles, expected in 2021.

The document aims to contribute to the upcoming comprehensive EU Strategy for Textiles, by providing recommendations on what such a Strategy should encompass in order to maintain a high level of ambition. It includes forward-looking proposals on due diligence, product policy framework, waste, unfair trading practices, international trade, support to producing countries, alternative business models and a multi-stakeholder platform.

Syctom Position Paper New Circular Economy Action Plan

Syctom Position Paper on the New Circular Economy Action Plan

Syctom is a French local public authority and a leading European operator in domestic waste management. It processes 2,3 million tonnes of domestic and related waste from around six million inhabitants of the Île-de-France region, including Paris, i.e. almost 9% of the French population. 

Syctom strongly welcomes the New Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) published by the European Commission.

In its position paper, Syctom highlights some elements in order to contribute to future discussions about the development of the new CEAP, in particular:

  • strengthening and extending ecodesign,
  • waste reduction,
  • stimulating the market for secondary raw materials,
  • waste-to-energy as a sustainable environmental activity and
  • strengthening education to promote prevention.

 

GLOPACK Position paper: Benefits of home compostable biodegradable materials for a sustainable food chain

GLOPACK investigates the benefits of home compostable biodegradable materials for a sustainable food chain

Author: 
The GLOPACK Consortium
Publication Date: 
12/2019
Country: 
EU

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Contact: 
Valérie Guillard
Zsófia Kertész

The GLOPACK (Granting society with LOw environmental impact innovative PACKaging) project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme, investigates food packaging with no environmental footprint and the ability to extend the shelf-life of food products.

The GLOPACK position paper aims at clarifying many debatable points related to bioplastics and biodegradability, especially terminology, and focuses on the benefits of biodegradable (in natural conditions) packaging material that can help the food sector enter the virtuous loop of the circular economy.

The paper also proposes some recommendations (basic, strategic and tactical interventions) to help all stakeholders in the food packaging sector to align with the common goal of ending plastic pollution.

GS1 Position Paper on Circular Data for the Circular Economy

GS1
Author: 
GS1
Publication Date: 
04/2020
Country: 
Belgium

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Contact: 
Francesca Poggiali

This paper by GS1 in Europe highlights the need to structure product data to make it available for circular economy needs. If data isn't structured and can't circulate according to a circular model, it will be very challenging to reach the scale needed for the circular economy plan.

Open standards are a way of uniquely identifying products, locations, machines, packaging, etc. If "global open identifiers" (openly available references for products, etc.) are used, rather than closed-in systems based on data for one limited purpose, it will be possible to share data.

GS1 in Europe is a neutral, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to global standards to improve the efficiency, visibility and sustainability of products around the world. 

Delivering a circular economy within the planet’s boundaries: An analysis of the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan

Delivering a circular economy within the planet’s boundaries: an analysis of the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan

Analysis of the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan 2020
Author: 
Mia Pantzar, Timothy Suljada
Publication Date: 
03/2020
Country: 
EU

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Contact: 
Mia Pantzar

This analysis by IEEP and SEI assesses to what extent the actions included in the new Circular Economy Action Plan published by the European Commission on 11 March 2020 may contribute to a more circular European economy within the boundaries of the planet.

The authors conclude that the action plan is a promising continuation of existing efforts, but ask for more concrete measures to address unsustainable resource consumption.

The authors make five recommendations to EU policymakers in this regard and emphasise the importance of EU Member States and the private sector showing leadership and willingness to innovate.

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