Reduce, reuse, recycle and waste not, want not. Two common phrases, but we need to make sure these principles are incorporated into European policy. A truly ambitious circular economy can help make sure we get the maximum value from the resources we use, eliminating waste, and making the economy work within environmental limits, rather than against them.
The European Commission is asking for your input on the circular economy and QCEA has written a guide to help you frame your answers.
Recently, thanks to public pressure from Quakers and many others, MEPs voted for an ambitious circular economy report! The next step is to make sure that the European Commission implements the European Parliament’s suggestions. This consultation, on the subject of the Commission’s revised circular economy proposals, is the best way to reinforce the Parliament’s recommendations. The consultation runs from now until the 20th of August, so you have a few weeks to answer.
QCEA has written a guide to help you respond to the consultation. In the guide, you can see both QCEA’s recommended answers in the tick-box sections, and also some bullet point suggestions for you to base your own responses to the open questions. Please feel free to add your own points – the Commission may discount answers that appear to duplicate each other so the more your submission is your own, the more useful it can be. Please don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the guide, or the consultation; you do not need to answer any question if you don’t want to. Every submission is useful, and it is better to answer a few questions, or just fill in the tick boxes, than not to respond at all.
Please also share this with any other individuals or groups who might be interested (there might be a local Greenpeace group who would find it useful, for example..) This offers a great opportunity for you to let the European Union know how ambitious measures need to be to achieve a more sustainable economy.
Friends may be aware of the ongoing formation of the European Commission’s proposals on the Circular Economy. As part of this process, the Commission is running a consultation on non-waste-related aspects of the circular economy, to help shape the legislation they have promised to put forward before the end of 2015.
The consultation asks questions regarding the production of products, their consumption or use, the markets for recycled materials, specific approaches for certain sectors, and enabling factors for the circular economy.
The circular economy is the opposite of the linear economic model, which is based on extracting materials, using them, and then discarding them. Waste is thus an essential element of this unsustainable system, which is premised on the view that humans can and should dominate the Earth. As resources become scarce, we must consider how better to manage our use of all resources, throughout society and the economy.
In line with this, the circular economy aims to maintain the value of resources for as long as possible, by preventing waste from being created at all, and by extending the useful lifetime of everyday products. These steps (such as reuse, repair, redistribution and upgrade), are comparable to a doctor: they ensure the product or material lasts for as long as possible. Recycling is the undertaker, working at the end of life to return useful materials back into the economy to be used again in new products. It’s important that this is deferred as long as possible, to avoid losing inherent value. For example, a washing machine has more value as a washing machine than as its component materials (plastics, metals etc.) – thus it is best for the environment to maintain the washing machine (or most of it) for as long as possible, rather than making a new one after recycling it.
See QCEA’s blog posts on the circular economy, our Around Europe article for more information, our blog on the European Parliament’s report, and a longer paper on the circular economy, by QCEA and 11 other NGOs. You can also find links for further reading in all the above blogs and articles, and in the consultation guide. The consultation itself provides background information on each section, and defines certain words or terms, as necessary.