Circular economy way of thinking embraced across EU

European companies are beginning to embrace the concept of the circular economy, but even higher targets loom on the horizon. [Selena/Flickr]

According to a new survey, 70% of EU companies are implementing a circular economy strategy, but there is still work to be done on renewable energy and water consumption. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

The circular economy is a big picture concept and in a survey carried out by market research giant TNS between 18 and 27 April, it has been shown that the higher the sales revenue of a company, the more likely it is to apply a circular economy approach.

From a pool of 10,618 companies, 72% of small businesses and 89% of large companies (50 to 250 employees) are working towards a no-waste strategy. France ended up directly on the European average, with 74%, while Malta, Ireland and Luxembourg topped the list of the 28 member states.

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Specifically, one in two companies tried to reduce, reuse or sell their waste over the last three years. Less implemented strategies included energy reduction drives, which 38% of companies attempted, and reviewing products or services in order to use less resources or use more recycled material, which 34% of companies tried.

Lagging behind are water consumption reduction and reusing waste water, which only 19% of EU businesses considered. The same goes for renewable energies, which polled at only 16%.

In terms of financing, a majority has not hesitated to invest part of their revenue in the venture, with some 59% of businesses doing so.

However, six out of ten companies reported difficulties in pursuing their strategies. These included complex administrative or judicial hurdles (34%), significant costs incurred to meet standards (32%) and funding issues (27%).

According to the member states, there are different incentives in place for the circular economy. Only 35% of companies said they were aware of them and just 3% acknowledged that they had benefited from them.

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Just one in five companies said that the information provided on these government programmes is sufficient. Moreover, one in two admitted that they had never sought out these incentives.

The European Parliament published a report on 31 May that outlined its ambitions to revise the waste directives within the context of the new Circular Economy package, introduced in December by the European Commission.

Prepared by Italian MEP Simona Bonafé (S&D group), the strategy is more ambitious than the executive’s, particularly since it recommends reducing municipal waste by 10% by 2030. The Commission did not make such a recommendation.

Circular Economy to promote organic fertilisers

The Circular Economy Package will begin with a new regulation on the use of waste products in fertilisers, which could cut the EU’s phosphate imports by a third. EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

The trade and services sectors would have to come up with fixed reduction targets by 2018 at the very latest and the EU as a whole will also have to halve food and marine waste by 2030.

The Ecodesign directive will also apply to construction materials, textiles and furniture. Finally, 70% of household waste and 80% of packaging will have to be recycled or reused by 2030. This is in contrast to the Juncker Commission’s goals of 65% and 75%, respectively. The report will be discussed at length by the Parliament’s ENVI committee on 15 June.


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