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Waste management and circular economy

Circular economy action plan - 12.02.2021

EU Parliament adopts position on circular economy: key takeaways for local governments
The promotion of short local value chains, support for local governments to develop circularity hubs and the sharing of expertise on waste management: these are some of the measures recommended by the European Parliament to reduce waste production and achieve the transition to a circular economy.

Members of the European Parliament adopted on Wednesday (10 February 2021) its opinion report on the new EU action plan for a circular economy, launched in March 2020 by the European Commission. Its rapporteur, the Dutchman Jan Huitema, has passed an ambitious report calling for better management of resources and reducing environmental impact, all the while promoting digital solutions.

The new action plan updates the previous action plan of 2015, calling for 35 measures to establish a new legislative and policy framework on circular economy. MEPs focused on three main points: putting an end to the "take-make-dispose" economy; setting binding targets by 2030 for raw materials, consumption footprint and recycling; and including non-energy-related products in the Ecodesign Directive.

Several measures supporting local governments

The parliamentary report highlights the important role of local and regional governments in the implementation of the action plan for the circular economy. In particular, they are encouraged to contribute to identifying opportunities for industrial symbiosis in local economic activities and to analysing resource flows (§109). This work would aim to foster synergies in local resources flows, whereby one industry’s waste serves as another’s raw materials.

MEPs call on the Commission and Member States to support the creation and cooperation of circularity hubs in all European regions, industrial clusters and local communities. This would include support for the development of circular models, public procurement and waste management (§113).

Lawmakers want to support the development of local value chains based on the recycling of biowaste to produce renewable energy, such as biomethane. This measure contributes, amongst other things, to the creation of closer links between rural and urban communities (§111).

Parliament also calls on the Commission to promote the sharing of good practices with local governments and to strengthen cooperation between them, as well as with business, academia and civil society (116§ and §117). Finally, MEPs recall the importance for Member States and regional and local governments to raise public awareness on sustainable consumption (§115).

Next steps

While the action plan itself is not legally binding, these proposals will be taken into account in the many policy and legislative initiatives it provides for. For example, the Commission is preparing for this year an EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, which aims to ensure that the textile industry recovers sustainably from COVID-19, and a Sustainable Products Initiative, which will revise the Ecodesign Directive to make products placed on the European market more sustainable.

CEMR will continue its monitoring and advocacy work to ensure that these initiatives take into account the interests of municipalities and regions and enable them to play their full role as key actors in the creation of the circular economy.
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