This blog was first posted on EurActiv.
Plastics have brought huge benefits to our society. But with those benefits come environmental problems. Too often, plastic ends up as waste, as marine litter polluting the oceans, or as litter on our beaches.
Lightweight, durable, and low cost plastics have transformed the products we make and consume, becoming ubiquitous through their convenience and adaptability.
It is now just over a year since the European Commission published its Circular Economy Action Plan, with the bold aim of abandoning the old make-use-dispose economy in favour of ‘closing the loop’ and keeping resources in circulation. To mark this milestone, the Commission has just published its first annual report, reviewing its progress in implementing the plan.
Back in 2007, Green Alliance examined the challenges and opportunities for the more sustainable use of nutrients, chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus, in the UK. It recommended a suite of policy principles to make a more circular system a reality.
Little has happened since in the UK. But last month I was asked to present Green Alliance’s policy principles to a conference of Nordic countries in Malmo, and to discuss how to take the agenda forward. I discovered that the ideas remain relevant and useful. Read more
The EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan committed to use the Ecodesign Directive to make the products we use more readily recyclable, repairable and reusable. The European Commission yesterday announced their new ecodesign priorities, but will they give us better products? Read more
Toasters have been in the news again this week, with more controversy, and more delays to the long awaited ecodesign working plan from the European Commission.
The plan will cover the next group of energy related products to be given an innovation boost through ecodesign policies, which drive up energy efficiency standards, rewards market leaders and takes inefficient products off the market. Ecodesign has been one of the EU’s most successful policies: it is already saving each European household €330 per year, and will deliver 40 per cent of the EU’s 2020 energy savings target. Read more
This post is by Thomas Fischer, head of the Circular Economy Programme at Environmental Action Germany (DUH)
This week we celebrated a rather tragic landmark: the point when we used up all the resources that our planet can regenerate in one year. The fact that Earth Overshoot Day happened in early August points to the gravity of resource overconsumption, but the costs are already visible in ocean acidification, water pollution, destruction of forests and nearly every other environmental problem. Fortunately, there is a solution: a resource efficient circular economy. Germany has pursued a circular economy agenda for the past decade in industry, but retailers haven’t been keeping up.
Now that the dust has settled after the referendum and the new government is in place, it’s a good point to take stock and consider what Brexit will mean for UK national environment policy.
Here, our policy experts give their insights on the likely impact and challenges of different scenarios in the three areas of our work: climate and energy, natural environment and resources.
As the UK heads towards the EU’s exit door, there is an urgent need for a new economic model. A recession looks likely, and even the optimists concede that the next few years will be challenging for the UK economy. Read more
Have you ever shattered your mobile phone screen? Or maybe your washing machine has packed up, and the repair costs so much you might as well buy a new one? Yesterday, national governments of the EU’s 28 member states, including the UK, have endorsed your right to repair these goods, by pledging to make manufacturers design more durable and repairable products. Read more
This post is by Emily Coats and Dustin Benton, co-authors of a new Green Alliance briefing Job creation and the circular economy.
Labour markets are news again. Of course, the term never appears in the headlines, but the effects of a changing jobs market are front page news: Donald Trump, Norbert Hofer, Marine Le Pen and even the UK’s own EU referendum are the political expression of a battle between cosmopolitans, who benefit from a globalised economy, and those whose employment is at risk from globalisation, mechanisation and a declining manufacturing base. Read more