All you need to know in 10 factsheets 2018-07-20T17:33:10+00:00

All you need to know in 10 factsheets

Introduction

The world’s resources are limited but we are living as if they weren’t. Global demand for resources is increasing every year. The average European consumes 16 tonnes of materials and produces 6 tonnes of waste every year. Of that waste 57% gets landfilled or burnt, damaging human health and the environment and wasting resources that could still be of use.

Moving to a more circular economy could help generate €600 billion for businesses. More than 2 million jobs could be created in Europe through better design of our products, through more re-use and greater prevention of waste.

Instead of the make – use – throw-away model which began with the Industrial Revolution, we can move to a circular economy where materials are continuously being re-used and recycled. Resources are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the
maximum value from them, then recovering and reusing products and materials.

To do this, we have to design our products so that they last longer, and become more repairable, reusable and recyclable. Increasing how much we reuse and recycle will reduce the amount of material we send to landfill or incineration and move us towards a zero-waste society.

Political context

After numerous high-level talks and countless strategy documents published about the urgent need to address resource efficiency in Europe, the European Commission finally proposed a legislative package on the circular economy in 2014. However, this was withdrawn by the new administration on the basis the package did not address product design and the incentivising of new business models. The revised package was released in December 2015, with some new proposals but a weaker legislative core – including lower recycling targets. Between 2016 and 2019, the EU institutions will work with Member States to integrate the package’s proposals into EU law.

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

Also available in Polish

EEB position paper on food waste

EEB position paper on food waste

Economic benefits

Keeping materials in the economy for as long as possible has huge economic benefits A study for the European Commission has estimated that better ecodesign, waste prevention and reuse can bring net material savings for EU businesses worth up to € 600 billion, while also reducing total annual greenhouse gas emissions. Additional measures to increase resource productivity by 2% per year could boost GDP by nearly 1%, while creating 2 million additional jobs by 2030. [3]

The EU manufacturing sector could benefit from net material cost savings worth up to €410-490 billion per year by 2025 by stimulating economic activity in the areas of circular product design, remanufacturing and secondary raw materials.

Job creation

An estimated 3.4 million people are employed in circular economy jobs such as repair, waste, recycling and the rental & leasing sectors across the European Union. Moreover, positive employment effects are already being felt where circular economy policies are being implemented in countries including Sweden, the Netherlands, and the UK.

The expansion of the circular economy could create 3 million extra jobs and reduce unemployment by 520,000 across EU Member States by 2030. Such an expansion potentially offers employment opportunities across the EU, and jobs that match the skills that are under-supplied in the market. [5]

Examples of circular business models include designing goods to last longer, which can lead to greater reuse; greater repairability which can support the growing remanufacturing industry; and allowing for easy recovery of materials when a product is eventually recycled. Service models, which could include product maintenance and take-back schemes as well as rental and peer-to-peer sharing models, also hold much potential.