Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Waste management and circular economy

Circular economy - 30.03.2020

The EU's calendar of action on circular economy and waste
While much economic activity is screeching to a halt and traffic is so low many cities are being cleared of air pollution, European legislative life continues to hum along in Brussels.

Earlier this month, the European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan which outlines the numerous measures the EU executive is planning to reduce waste, increase reuse and recycling, and lengthen the lifespan of products. From automobiles to food packaging, and textiles to oils, the goal is to lower our use of natural resources in line with what the planet can bear. The plan outlines over thirty initiatives the Commission will present in the coming years, several of which will have a significant impact on towns and regions.

Green Public Procurement

From 2021 onwards, the Commission will propose minimum mandatory Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria and targets in sectoral legislation. With public authorities’ purchasing power representing a whopping 14% of EU GDP, public procurement is a powerful driver of demand. The new rules could mean increased reporting requirements for local and regional governments so as to monitor the uptake of green procurement. The Commission will continue to provide guidance and training for public authorities in this area.

CEMR will work with the Commission to make sure that these measures do not infringe upon local and regional governments’ autonomy and freedom to choose what is most appropriate for their territory.

Textiles, packaging, labelling, oils...

The Commission also aims to publish a European Strategy for Textiles in 2021. Brussels wants to achieve separate collection of textile waste across the bloc by 2025. Guidance would also be provided in this area.

Three initiatives of interest to local and regional governments are expected in 2022. The Commission wants to halve municipal waste and make all packaging recyclable or reusable by 2030. To that end, the EU executive will propose waste reduction targets, particularly for packaging waste, and “mandatory essential requirements” for all packaging on the market.

What’s more the Commission will propose an EU-wide harmonised model for separate collection of waste and labelling to facilitate separate collection, as well as a review of rules for the treatment of waste oils. Both measures will have implications for how local governments deal with waste.

CEMR will closely monitor developments, exchange with our member associations and engage with the EU institutions. We will work to ensure that the upcoming European actions on circular economy respect the need of local and regional governments, and make the most of their potential contribution to a more sustainable use of resources.

Key dates
  • EU Strategy for Textiles: 2021
  • Mandatory Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria and targets in sectoral legislation and phasing-in mandatory reporting on GPP: from 2021 onwards
  • Waste reduction targets for specific streams and other measures on waste prevention: 2022
  • EU-wide harmonised model for separate collection of waste and labelling to facilitate separate collection: 2022
  • Review of the rules on proper treatment of waste oils: 2022
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