Commission breaks “more ambitious” promise with new circular economy package

Brussels, 2 December 2015 – for immediate release.

The European Commission’s revised circular economy package, which was released today, aiming to make Europe less wasteful, but the package represents a step backwards from the Commission’s proposals in July 2014.

When withdrawing the earlier proposals in December 2014, Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans promised to bring a “more ambitious” proposal by the end of 2015.

With the package announced today, however, the Commission has failed to keep its promise: overall recycling targets have been lowered and other targets dropped altogether.

George Thurley, Project Officer for Sustainability at QCEA, said:

Although we welcome the publication of the revised circular economy package after an unnecessary year-long delay, unfortunately the new package fails to justify that delay, and does not do enough to provide the necessary framework to transition to a circular economy.

Reduced targets, and vague long-term commitments fail to adequately address Europe’s unsustainable patterns of consumption and waste-creation.

Quakers believe that humans do not own the earth, and that therefore it is crucial to act urgently to realign our economic systems with nature, managing all natural resources and products as carefully as possible. This package reflects none of that urgency.”

Of particular concern to the Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA), are

  • Lowering the preparation for reuse and recycling target for 2030 from 70% to 65% in this proposal,
  • Allowing seven Member States a 5 year extension on this target, meaning that their commitment by 2020 is now lower than under legislation from 2008
  • Allowing 10% of municipal waste to be landfilled in 2030
  • Scrapping the binding targets to reduce food waste

In most other areas, the waste directives are largely the same as those proposed in 2014 version, aside from the clarification of some definitions and additional actions to facilitate reuse and repair. The addition of an action plan, “Closing the loop”, addressing non-waste aspects of the circle, is not enough to offset the drop in ambition elsewhere. This plan also lacks ambition, as it makes mostly non-binding and vague future commitments, and links existing Commission initiatives to the move to a circular economy.


For more information please contact:

George Thurley

gthurley [at] or +32 2 234 30 62


Notes to the editor

  • The Circular Economy package refers to revisions to six waste-related directives and a non-binding communication from the European commission, an action plan called “Closing the loop” focussing on non-waste issues.
  • The circular economy is an economic model which aims to maintain the value of resources for as long as possible, by preventing waste from being created at all, by extending the useful lifetime of everyday products, and through reuse and recycling.
  • Moving to a truly circular economy would result in huge economic, environmental and social benefits; reducing the EU’s resource and energy consumption, moving towards zero waste, reducing costs for businesses and creating jobs.
  • QCEA represents European Quakers at the European level. We advocate non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, promote policies that respect the intrinsic equality of all people everywhere, and try to ensure that European policy sustains the planet’s resources and the lives of all those who share them.