Early reaction to the proposed withdrawal and re-launch of a “broader and more ambitious” set of Circular Economy Package has been concern.
Trade bodies were almost unanimous in expressing disappointment at the decision by the European Commission as part of its 2015 Work Programme.
Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson (pictured) said: “With the Commission saying it is withdrawing the package and intending to bring it back with revisions to make it ‘more ambitious’, in our view this raises more questions than it answers. I do not see why the package needed to be withdrawn completely – which it has – in order to inject more ‘ambition’. Surely this could have been done within the existing timetable, and maintained momentum?
“By deprioritising the package for this year’s programme the Commission signal it does not see the circular economy as a priority that delivers jobs and growth in line with its stated objectives for revising its work. This underplays the significance of the potential of the circular economy, however much discussion is necessary on aspects of the detailed programme, as a generator of sustainable green jobs and growth.
“Today, this sends a mixed signal to our industry about the future of the Circular Economy Package and it is not a welcome move. Therefore, an early indication is needed from the Commission to signal its timetable for review and submission, and the areas where it thinks more ‘ambition’ is needed. We stand ready with colleagues in the resources industry to contribute to this discussion and we look forward to the early view of the European Parliament and our own Government on this decision to withdraw the legislation.”
Secondary Commodity Markets 2015 – the conference for buyers and sellers of recyclable materials takes place on 3 March 2015 in London. Find out more here
The Environmental Services Association (ESA) also expressed its regret at the “uncertainty” created by the withdrawal.
Europe policy advisor Roy Hathaway said: “While it is reassuring to hear that the Commission plans to bring back the Circular Economy proposals in a broader and more ambitious form in 2015, rather than abandon them altogether, the uncertainty around what this means is not helpful. Progress towards a more circular economy in Europe is vital for jobs and growth as well as resource efficiency and environmental protection.
“The Commission’s previous proposals were not perfect, but the direction of travel it set was right, and would have helped encourage private sector investment in better resource management.
“ESA looks forward to seeing the revised Commission proposals as soon as possible and will work with all EU institutions to ensure that they are workable and would help move European resource management in the right direction.”
Friends of the Earth criticised both the decision made by the European Commission, but also the fact that the UK did not issue any statement of support for the Circular Economy Package.
This contrasted with 11 European Environment ministers who signed a letter calling for the Circular Economy Package to be retained. Signatories included ministers from Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said: “Careful resource use is crucial for the long term wellbeing of both our economy and environment – it’s little wonder so many forward-looking retailers and manufacturers are deeply concerned about European Commission plans.
“Europe claims a proud history of protecting our health and environment, but recent decisions have put a huge dent in its green reputation. A green and healthy environment and a thriving economy are two sides of the same coin.
“A broad coalition of businesses has been urging David Cameron to put pressure on the European Commission to keep its resource-use programme, but the silence from the UK Government has been deafening.”
Zero Waste Scotland said it did not want to see momentum lost on developing a Circular Economy.
Chief executive Iain Gulland said: “The European Commission’s previous package, which has just been withdrawn, represented a heightened ambition to develop a circular economy across Europe, and we don’t want to lose momentum on this important agenda. We believe the benefits of a circular economy are many – from tackling climate change to creating jobs, growth, and a more resilient economy – and we will continue to make the case for action within Scotland and beyond.
“We look forward to seeing proposals early next year from the EC which it claims will strike an even more ambitious note, while individual Member States and regions like Scotland can continue to pursue their own plans.”