Circular economy indicators for consumer goods

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The study Circular economy indicators for consumer goods found limited evidence that the system of consumer goods is circular or evolving in that direction, revealing that large amounts of raw material inputs are needed to meet the need for consumer goods. While reuse of consumer goods in Flanders does seem to be on the rise, reuse centres warn that continued growth is hindered by the decreasing quality of the products they receive. What's more, goods which could be reused are ending up in municipal solid waste streams.

Stepping up repair would cut down on the proportion of consumer goods which end up in the bin, but at the moment this strategy is only implemented and documented to a marginal extent. The total amount of municipal solid waste collected has decreased compared to 2013, and stagnated in recent years.

The data also show that there is still room to improve the selective collection of recyclable materials that now end up in residual or bulky waste. As the consumer goods system is a grouping of very diverse goods, it proved impractical to find general indicators expressing the circularity of the consumer goods system as a whole. This meant that it was necessary to further disaggregate the system of consumer goods, creating three distinct sub-categories: ‘textiles’, ‘electronic and electric equipment’ and ‘furniture’. In this way, specific opportunities and problems could be highlighted for each of these large impact categories.