CIRCULAR ECONOMY: Revision of the waste legislations and cascading use of wood

On 2 December 2015 the European Commission has published the Circular Economy package.

According to the European Commission, this new initiative will help European businesses and consumers to make the transition to a stronger and more circular economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way. The proposed actions will contribute to "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. The plans will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing Green House Gas emissions. The proposals cover the full lifecycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials.

The Circular Economy package is composed of the following documents:

  • Communication: Closing the loop – An EU action plan for the Circular Economy;
  • Annex to Communication on Circular Economy;
  • Proposed Directive on Waste;
  • Proposed Directive on Packaging Waste;
  • Proposed Directive on Landfill;
  • Proposed Directive on electrical and electronic waste.

The revised legislative proposal on waste sets clear targets for reduction of waste and establishes a long-term path for waste management and recycling. Key elements of the revised waste proposal include:

  • A common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030;
  • A common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030;
  • A binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030;
  • A ban on landfilling of separately collected waste;
  • Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling ;
  • Simplified and improved definitions and harmonised calculation methods for recycling rates throughout the EU;
  • Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis –turning one industry's by-product into another industry's raw material;
  • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles).

Furthermore, the new European Communication on “Closing the loop – An EU action plan for the Circular Economy In a circular economy” refers to the cascading use of wood. In particular the document states that “a cascading use of renewable resources, with several reuse and recycling cycles, should be encouraged where appropriate. Biobased materials, such as for example wood, can be used in multiple ways, and reuse and recycling can take place several times. This goes together with the application of the waste hierarchy (including for food – see section 5.2) and, more generally, options that result in the best overall environmental outcome. National measures such as extended producer responsibility schemes for furniture or wood packaging, or separate collection of wood can have a positive impact. The Commission will work on identifying and sharing best practices in this sector and promote innovation; the revised legislative proposals on waste also include a mandatory EU-level target on recycling wood packaging waste. In addition, the Commission will promote synergies with the circular economy when examining the sustainability of bioenergy under the Energy Union”.

Moreover, a “guidance and dissemination of best practice on the cascading use of biomass and support to innovation -Horizon 2020 call for tender” is expected to be published in the year 2018-2019.

The Communication: Closing the loop – An EU action plan for the Circular Economy is available at the following link:

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