Ecodesign for a circular economy
The Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation proposed by the European Commission in 2022 seeks to reduce the overall environmental impact of a wide range of products. To be effective, it should not only focus on individual products but also towards increasing collection, sorting, repair, and recirculation systems. 1,039 terawatt hours, or 89 million tonnes of oil: that is the estimated amount of primary energy savings resulting from EU ecodesign and energy labelling rules in the year 2020. The impact of the proposed Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) is expected to be even greater than that of its predecessor, the Ecodesign Directive. The ESPR seeks to address a much wider range of products, from textiles to furniture, and aims to reduce their overall environmental and climate impacts. The essence of the Ecodesign approach remains unchanged: products in scope will need to meet minimum performance and information requirements, but going forward, those requirements will focus not only on energy use but also on aspects such as durability, recycled content and substances that may pose barriers to recirculation.
Additional mixed waste sorting systems prior to incineration are not the silver bullet for achieving a circular economy
Some stakeholders believe that mixed waste sorting systems prior to thermal treatment and disposal is the silver bullet that will allow the waste management sector to achieve the EU’s circular economy objectives. This is the result of a recent study published on 16 February 2023 and is also reflected in some amendment proposals within the ongoing revisions of the Renewable Energies Directive and the Industrial Emissions Directive. However, this is a dangerous message as it undermines years of awareness raising and investments made by the sector to implement and ensure the functionality of source separation of municipal waste by our citizens. Source separation is mandatory under the Waste Framework Directive precisely to ensure quality recycling. Consequently, separately collected waste shall not be incinerated nor landfilled. Exceptions to separate collection are possible in specific circumstances, and only then, a prior mixed sorting system should play a role.
Battle lines drawn for EU’s packaging waste law
The EU’s proposed revised rules on packaging and packaging waste, designed to reverse the growing amount of packaging waste generated in Europe, is set to cause frictions as policymakers in the European Parliament and EU countries hash out their position. Last year, the European Commission proposed overhauling the law to tackle the drastic increase in packaging waste and address fragmentation in the single market as national governments introduced their own country-level policies. Even before its publication, the reform was proving controversial. And now the European Parliament and EU countries will begin to make amendments, dredging up issues like the balance between recycling and reuse, how to ensure proper waste collection and more.