Circular Economy

Photo: Wilma Hurskainen

In the circular economy resources are kept within the economy even when a product has reached the end of its life. The aim is to start by designing and manufacturing the products in a way that they can be used and recycled for as long as possible. The circular economy should not be confused with recycling, where the focus is on finding new uses for waste that has already been generated. 

Transition to the circular economy requires changes throughout value chains from product design to new business and market models and consumer behaviour. Despite its name, the circular economy is not a separate economy but a multisectoral and profound change in the modes and practices.

The Finnish roadmap to a circular economy was prepared jointly by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the relevant ministries and other stakeholders to respond to the opportunities offered by the circular economy. The Government of Finland and the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra also adopted a new action plan to promote the circular economy.

The potential of the circular economy has been studied in several projects.

EU Circular Economy Package

The European Commission proposal on the circular economy of December 2015 contains an extensive action plan and a number of proposals for legislative amendments in support of this. The implementation of the package takes place in 2016–2018.

One year after the Circular Economy Package the Commission published a “mini-package” including:

  • Report (EU) on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan and Annex (EU)
  • Communication (EU) on the role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy
  • Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) (EU)
  • Press Release and Fact Sheet (EU)

The Strategy for Plastics

In January 2018 the Commission published the first European Strategy for Plastics to reduce problems caused by plastic waste and litter. The strategy aims for more efficient recovery and recycling of plastics and product design that promotes the reuse, reparability and recycling of plastic products while creating the conditions for new circular economy innovations and investments.

The Strategy for Plastics is part of the package of Commission initiatives to boost the circular economy, which comprises:

  • Communication on the European Strategy for Plastics
  • Communication on the interface between chemicals, waste and products legislation
  • Monitoring framework for the circular economy
  • Proposal for a Directive on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships
  • Report on oxo-plastics
  • Report on critical raw materials
  • Commission has also launched a pledging campaign targeting industry and public authorities. Circular economy pledges are to be submitted by 30 June.

Clean material cycles should be promoted by substituting for harmful materials, improving their traceability, and more efficient removal of such materials from waste flows. By the Communication the Commission also wishes to open the discussion on the necessary legislative changes. At the moment the Commission is also preparing a legislative initiative on single-use plastics that should be published later this spring. The public hearing concerning the initiative is open until 12 February.

Published 2018-02-08 at 9:43, updated 2019-06-05 at 9:42