Commission presents its legislative arsenal in favor of the circular economy

Separate economic development from the use of natural resources and reduce dependence on materials. These are the goals of this new legislative package, which aims at the production and end-of-life of all products consumed in the EU.

In line with its circular economy action plan of March 2020, the European Commission will present a legislative package this Wednesday, 30 March, for discussion with Parliament and Member States. The proposed new rules aim to make almost all physical goods on the EU market greener.

The proposal follows the same approach as the current Ecodesign Directive. It expands the list of eligible products and tightens the requirements, no longer focusing solely on energy efficiency.. The Commission proposes to include substances that prevent cycling or recycled content in products, as well as ways to facilitate re-production and recycling.

The EU also looks forward to creating digital data sheets for relevant AG products and performance classes for comparison, such as the current energy label. These tools will improve product traceability and gather useful information for consumers and even for recyclers or repairers. The Commission is also calling for the creation of a maintainability index similar to that established in France. Similarly, the EU is drawing inspiration from France and its Circular Economy Waste Control Act (Agec), calling for commitments to purchase sustainable products from public markets and a ban on the destruction of unsold goods.

Opening discussions on related products

The proposal will set rules for any physical product placed on the market or put into service, including intermediate products. Only a few sectors, such as food, animal feed and medicines, will be exempt from taxes. specifies the commission. To refine the list, a public consultation will be held by the end of 2022 as part of the first work plan for an eco-design regulation for sustainable products. But he already gives some ideas: textiles, furniture, mattresses, tires, detergents. , paints, lubricants and intermediate products such as iron, steel and aluminium. The rules will be fixed for each product. Once established, they will apply to all products placed on the EU market, regardless of their origin (made in the EU or imported).

Specific strategy for textiles

After food, housing and transport, textile consumption is the fourth largest source of environmental impact in Europe. That is why the Commission is dedicating a special strategy for the period up to 2030 to this. Specifically, the proposed measures include ecodesign requirements for textiles, clearer information, a digital product passport and a mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (REP) scheme, on the occasion of the revision of the Waste Framework Directive in 2023.

Measures are also proposed to address the unintentional release of microplastics from textiles, ensure the accuracy of environmental claims, and encourage circular business models, including reuse and repair services, to help stop the export of textile waste.

Other for building products

Building materials account for 50% of the extraction and consumption of resources and more than 30% of the waste generated in the EU each year, the Commission points out, to justify launching a review of the rules applicable to these products, in force since 2011.

The revised rules will not only address aspects related to safety and functionality, but will also establish sustainability criteria. Manufacturers will be required to provide environmental information about the life cycle of their products and fulfill a number of obligations, including: designing products and their packaging in such a way that their overall environmental sustainability reaches the state of the art; give preference to recyclable and recyclable materials; fulfill obligations under the processed content; provide operating and maintenance instructions; and developing products to facilitate their reuse, repair and recycling.

New rights for consumers

We support consumers who are now looking for more durable and maintainable products. We must ensure that their voluntary approach is not hampered by misleading information, comments Vera Yurov, Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency. To this end, the Commission is proposing to amend the consumer directive to require professionals to provide information on the durability and maintainability of products.

It also proposes several amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), expanding the list of product characteristics on which a merchant cannot mislead consumers. New methods have been added that are considered misleading: for example, environmental claims regarding future environmental performance without commitment or clear, verifiable targets and without an independent monitoring system.

Finally, the Commission is amending the UCPD to add new practices to the blacklist of prohibited unfair commercial practices, such as making environmental claims about a product as a whole when in fact it is only one of its characteristics; or failure to provide information about features introduced to limit the asset’s longevity (planned obsolescence).

Much broader implications across the industry

All these texts are part of the European Green Pact. In July 2022, a new package of proposals for packaging and packaging waste is expected. These two packages are in addition to two other related texts already submitted: the Battery Regulation, which is currently in trial application, and the universal charger (USB Type-C port) proposed in the proposal for the revision of the radioelectric equipment directive submitted by in September 2021 .

For many specialists, the implemented texts are an additional and long-awaited building block in the environmental policy of Europe. Europe, with this circular economy package, is harnessing the power of the single market to generate the funds to transform our consumption patterns. says Pascal Canfin, MEP (Renew Europe).

By directly affecting the production of products, these texts will also indirectly contribute to the decarbonization of industry and compliance with EU climate commitments. For decades, sustainable food policy has been an important and central missing piece of the EU policy puzzle, guiding green food decisions and behavior in the industry. valued

For decades, sustainable production policies have been an important and central missing piece of the EU policy puzzle.

, industrial policy coordinator for the non-governmental organization CAN Europe. Opinion shared by Ioana Popescu from the International Ecological Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations on Standards (ECOS): IThe hallmark of this initiative is that it could set the tone for greening energy-intensive industries such as steel and cement. It can offer minimum CO performance requirements.2 in accordance with the Paris Agreement. This will have a direct and positive impact on their key demand sectors such as construction and automotive.

Article published March 30, 2022

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