Circular economy to have considerable benefits, but challenges remain

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19/01/2016
The environmental benefits of adopting a circular economy in Europe could be considerable – reducing waste, and minimising the continent’s heavy dependence on imports of raw materials. A new report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) draws attention to both the benefits and challenges of such an economic transition. The report also describes possible ways to measure progress and highlights the areas where more attention is required from research and policy in order to turn the concept into reality.

The EEA report Circular economy in Europe - Developing the knowledge base describes the concept of the circular economy and outlines its key characteristics. Creating a circular economy requires fundamental changes throughout the value chain, from product design and production processes to new business models and consumption patterns. Recycling will turn waste into a resource and extending product lifetimes will help preserve natural resources. The European Commission’s 2015 circular economy package plays an important role in bringing this about.

‘The concept of a circular economy has recently gained traction in European policy making as a positive, solutions-based perspective for achieving economic development while respecting environmental limits. The EEA is prepared to support the transition to a circular economy through analysis and assessments,’ said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.

Unlike the traditional take-make-consume-dispose approach, a circular economy seeks to respect environmental boundaries through increasing the share of renewable or recyclable resources while reducing the consumption of raw materials and energy. Emissions and loss of resources will thus be reduced. Approaches such as eco-design, sharing, re-using, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing products and materials, will play a significant role in maintaining the use of products, components and materials and retaining their value.

 

Source: European Environment Agency