On 11 March 2020, the European Commission (EC) adopted the new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) for a cleaner and more competitive Europe and aims to make the European economy fit for a green future, strengthen its competitiveness while protecting the environment and give new rights to consumers.
To successfully deliver on its European Green Deal ambition, the EU needs to drive a global transition to a carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy, where resource use is decoupled from economic growth. The EU’s transition to a circular economy will reduce pressure on natural resources and will create sustainable growth and jobs. It is also a prerequisite to achieve the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target and to halt biodiversity loss.
Building on the 2015 action plan, the first action plan on a European level, the CEAP 2020 introduced a set of initiatives focusing on how products are designed, promotes circular economy processes, encourages sustainable consumption, and aims to ensure that waste is prevented and the resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible. It introduces legislative and non-legislative measures targeting areas where action at the EU level brings real added value. The EC refers to the action plan as one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal.
Priority will be given to addressing product groups identified in the context of the value chains featuring in this Action Plan, such as the ones below, but also furniture and high impact intermediary products such as steel, cement and chemicals. Further product groups will be identified based on their environmental impact and circularity potential.
Figure 1: The 7 key product value chains as a matter of priority (priority product groups) of the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan
Measures that will be introduced under the new CEAP 2020 aim to:
- make sustainable products the norm in the EU;
- empower consumers and public buyers;
- focus on the sectors that use most resources and where the potential for circularity is high such as: electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, food, water and nutrients;
- ensure less waste;
- make circularity work for people, regions and cities; and
- lead global efforts on circular economy.
The EC adopted the first milestone of the action plan on 10 December 2020, by proposing a regulation to modernise EU legislation on batteries. The aim is that batteries placed on the EU market are sustainable, circular, high-performing and safe throughout their entire life cycle and that they are collected, repurposed and recycled, becoming a true source of valuable raw materials. It includes mandatory requirements for all batteries (i.e., industrial, automotive, electric vehicle and portable) placed on the EU market. These requirements include use of responsibly sourced materials with restricted use of hazardous substances, minimum recycled material content, carbon footprint, performance and durability, labelling, and meeting collection and recycling targets.
The EC will implement all 35 actions listed in the action plan until 2022. The full list of actions can be found in the implementation tracking table.