Working towards a stronger Circular Economy – How much regulation is needed?
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In order to achieve the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target, the European Commission is planning to announce new initiatives addressing the entire life cycle of products. The objective is a design of products that allows circularity, the promotion of circular economy processes and sustainable consumption, and the initiatives should ensure that waste is prevented and that the resources used remain in the EU economy for as long as possible.
The Sustainable Products Initiative, which is expected to be published in the first quarter of 2022, is a cornerstone of the EU’s endeavours to create a circular economy. It will include proposals to revise the Ecodesign Directive and other legislative measures with the aim to make products placed on the EU market more sustainable.
The European Commission considers detailed and comprehensive information about the composition and nature of products to be a key factor for an effective reuse or recycling of goods. In this respect, the potential of ‘digital’ is key to make information about products more transparent.
The Sustainable Products Initiative will therefore include rules for setting requirements on mandatory sustainability labelling and/or disclosure of information to market actors along value chains in the form of a digital product passport.
A fear of industry is that additional bureaucratic burdens, especially for SMEs, will be created. They claim that a digital product passport could mean the disclosure of internal company data and technological know-how, which could prevent companies from innovating and put them at a competitive disadvantage.
The passport can however prove valuable if it collects and processes climate neutrality and circular economy data. Such data would provide learnings for industry, facilitating new business models and services.
Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss the EU's Circular Economy Action Plan and whether its new initiatives, such as the digital product passport, will achieve the transparency for products that policymakers are looking for. And how easy will it be for industry, big and small, to comply with?
William Neale, Adviser for Circular Economy, DG ENVI, European Commission
Ruben Dekker, Policy Coordinator in the field of Circular Economy, Ministry of Environment of the Netherlands
Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director, Zero Waste Europe
Emma Watkins, Senior Policy Analyst, Low Carbon and Circular Economy, IEEP
Karl Haeusgen, President, VDMA
Ross Melzer, EU Affairs Director, EURACTIV
09:30 – 09:35 Welcome
09:35 – 09:50 Panellist statements
09:50 – 10:40 Discussion and Q&A
10:40 – 10:45 Closing statements
The European Commission plans to introduce a "digital product passport" early next year that would contain information about the composition of goods on the European market to help boost their chances of being reused and recycled.