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New circular vision for Europe launched

BRUSSELS: The European Commission has announced plans to implement a circular economy for the EU in a bid to increase resource productivity 30 percent by 2030.

To achieve this timeframe, the Commission says it wants to simplify current legislation in order to increase municipal and packaging recycling to 70 percent and 80 percent respectively. As of 2025, it will ban landfilling of biodegradable waste, plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard in order to achieve “virtual elimination” of municipal waste landfilling by 2030.

Closing the LoopThe legislative proposals - if continued by the new Commission lead by Jean-Claude Juncker - will pass to the Council and the European Parliament.

Noting EU resource productivity grew by 20 percent between 2000 -2011, the Commission argues its proposals would lead to a further 30 percent increase by 2030 - boosting GDP by nearly one percent and creating over two million more jobs.

The UK estimates that adopting a circular economy could generate 50,000 new jobs and €12 billion investment, boosting GDP by €3.6 billion. In addition, redesigned products for a cradle-to-cradle cycle could recapture 140 million tons of waste between now and 2020, leading to €1.7 billion in extra recycling revenues for the British economy.

In the Netherlands, shifting to a circular economy would bring significant reduction in CO2 emissions, land use, fresh water use and raw materials – more than 25 percent of the total imports of goods by weight in the Netherlands a year. The circular economy could produce an extra €7.3 billion a year in market values (or 1.4 percent of today’s GDP) and create 54 000 jobs.

In making the announcement, current environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "We are living with linear economic systems inherited from the 19th Century in a 21st Century world of emerging economies, millions of new middle class consumers, and inter-connected markets.

“If we want to compete we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste. Moving to a circular economy is not only possible, it is profitable, but that does not mean it will happen without the right policies. The 2030 targets that we propose are about taking action today to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and exploiting the business and job opportunities it offers," he added.

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