Circular economy: EU seeks to change how we produce and consume

Reaching climate neutrality and reversing a devastating pattern of biodiversity loss will only be possible if Europe rethinks its economic model, environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said on Wednesday as he unveiled the EU executive's new circular economy action plan.

A main thrust of the plan is a widening of ‘ecodesign’ rules beyond merely energy performance to cover aspects such as durability and repairability, ensuring products are reusable and upgradable, and increasing the recycled content, partly by limiting the content of hazardous materials.

The European Commission’s ‘sustainable product policy initiative’, due at an unspecified time next year, will have at its core a review of the 2009 Ecodesign Directive. The executive has been under growing pressure over recent years to strengthen the directive, not least from the European Parliament and, more recently, EU auditors.

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