10. Feb 2021
During the plenary session earlier today, the European Parliament adopted the European Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan to achieve a carbon-neutral, sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 .
The Plan was adopted by the Commission March 2020 and debated in the Environment Committee in October.
MEPs voted 574 in favour, 22 against and 95 abstentions to back the action plan but also called on the commission to include more stringent targets to protect natural resources and reduce consumption.
In the resolution, MEPs emphasise that the current linear “take-make-dispose” economy must be transformed into a truly circular economy, based on a series of key principles. These principles include reducing energy and resource use; the retention of value in the economy; waste prevention; the designing out of waste and of harmful substances and pollution; keeping products and materials in use and in closed loops; protection of human health; promotion of consumer benefits; and regenerating natural systems. The consumer benefits of a circular economy should be made clear, they say, and sustainable, circular, safe and non-toxic products and materials should become the norm in the EU market.
The MEPs also call for science-based binding 2030 EU targets for materials use and consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market. To this end, they urge the Commission to introduce in 2021 harmonised, comparable and uniform circularity indicators for material and consumption footprints.
They urge the Commission to propose product-specific and/or sector-specific binding targets for recycled content, while ensuring the performance and safety of the products concerned and that they are designed to be recycled. In addition, MEPs strongly endorse the Commission’s intention to broaden the scope of the Ecodesign Directive to include non-energy-related products. They insist that new legislation should be put forward in 2021. This should set horizontal sustainability principles and product-specific standards so that products placed on the EU market perform well, are durable, reusable, can be easily repaired, are not toxic, can be upgraded and recycled, contain recycled content, and are resource- and energy-efficient.
Emphasising the importance of improving access to funds for research and innovation projects on the circular economy, the MEPs also called on the Commission to steer the activities of the Horizon Europe programme towards supporting research and innovation, among others, for the resource efficiency of industrial processes and for the bioeconomy, through bio-based innovation encompassing the development of bio-based materials and products.
Specifically in regard to bioplastics, the MEPs recognised the potential role of biobased and biodegradable and compostable plastics in the circular economy, but raised 'caution that bio-based and/or biodegradable plastics alone will not provide a solution to the environmental concerns related to plastics, highlights the importance of raising awareness on the proper use of bio-based and bio-degradable plastics’.