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MEPs call for tighter EU consumption and recycling rules

The European Parliament adopted comprehensive policy recommendations, in response to the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan, to achieve a carbon-neutral, sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 at the latest.

Binding 2030 targets are needed for materials use and our consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market, MEPs stress. They are also calling on the Commission to propose product-specific and sector-specific binding targets for recycled content.

The Parliament is urging the Commission to put forward new legislation in 2021, broadening the scope of the Ecodesign Directive to include non-energy-related products. This should set 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.

Up to 80 per cent of the environmental impact of products is determined at the design phase. The global consumption of materials is expected to double in the next forty years, while the amount of waste generated every year is projected to increase by 70 per cent by 2050. Half of total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress, come from extracting and processing resources.

“The transition to a circular economy is an economic opportunity for Europe that we should embrace,” said Rapporteur Jan Huitema. “Europe is not a resource-rich continent, but we have the skills, the expertise and the ability to innovate and develop the technologies needed to close loops and build a waste-free society. This will create jobs and economic growth and bring us closer to reaching our climate goals: it’s a win-win.”

In the plenary debate, MEPs emphasised that achieving the Green Deal objectives will only be possible if the EU switches to a circular economy model and that this change will create new jobs and business opportunities. Existing legislation on waste must be implemented more thoroughly and further measures are needed for key sectors and products, such as textiles, plastics, packaging and electronics, MEPs added.

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