Circular economy, recycling and new model

Despite its extreme youth, the circular economy package presented on July 2nd of this year is threatened by the presidency of the European Commission itself, which considers that it goes too far. In any case, this article analyses the set of challenges it poses, regardless of its uncertain future.

On July 2nd last, the Commission presented its circular economy package, which included a Communication and the modification of three Directives: the Waste Framework, Landfill, and Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives.

The then European Environment Commissioner, Janez Potoˇcnik, finally managed to publish the package after numerous postponements and a long internal battle that lasted months. At that time, I wrote in my blog that the great doubt was whether the new team arising from the European elections of May 25th would adopt the package.

It would appear that they are not going to do so. And both Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and the current Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, are threatening to change the nature of the package or even send it to limbo. Organisations in Europe of all types are attempting to ensure that this does not happen but things do not look good.

Implementing the circular economy package in the field of waste revolves around several main pillars:

  • Prevention and recycling, along with harmonisation of the concept itself.
  • Gradual eradication of landfilling until it becomes residual.
  • Optimisation in this respect of the packaging stream, which is such a flagship stream.

A recent study carried out by this foundation enjoyed the participation of over twenty private and public organisations and the collaboration of twelve more. The study shows, with little possibility of error, that the current rate of recycling in Spain, including waste from commercial sources, stands at around 38%. This figure is less alarming than the percentage that has been presented in recent times but it is still very far from meeting 2020 targets.

Article published in: FuturENVIRO December 2014