European Commissioner Janez Potočnik calls for resource productivity target in final speech


In his final speech to the European Parliament, European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik has called on it to introduce a resource productivity target.

The outgoing Environment Commissioner has not been nominated for a third term by the Slovenian Government, and will therefore step down once the proposed new European Commissioners are announced this week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.


Candidates will then need to be ratified by the European Parliament.

Last week, in his final speech to the European Parliament, Janez Potočnik called on the new members of the Parliament to consider introducing a non-binding resource productivity target at an EU level.

Under the Circular Economy package adopted by the European Commission in July, there is a mid-term review of progress on meeting the proposed targets.

At this point, the Commissioner advised that the resource productivity target could be introduced.

The target would be based on raw material consumption divided by gross domestic product.

According to the Commissioner, resource productivity increased by just under 2 per cent per annum. But based on current policies, EU forecasts imply that resource productivity would be around 15 per cent higher than today as businesses improve their efficiency in response to rising input prices. But the annual improvement rate in resource productivity would nevertheless slow down from its current rate of 2 per cent per year to less than 1 per cent.

Janez Potočnik said: “We need to reverse this slowdown. The European Resource Efficiency Platform, which included also some Members of the European Parliament, recommended at least a 30 per cent increase in resource productivity. Such a goal would be ambitious yet achievable, and would maintain the long-term trend of an annual 2 per cent improvement in resource productivity.”

He added that meeting this target would increase GDP by up to 3 per cent and measures such as better eco-design, waste prevention and reuse could bring net savings to businesses in the EU of up to €600 billion.

The Commissioner also looked back at the Circular Economy package including the proposed targets of:

  • Boosting reuse and recycling of municipal waste to a minimum of 70 per cent by 2030
  • Increasing the recycling rate for packaging waste to 80 per cent by 2030 with interim targets of 60 per cent by 2020 and 70 per cent by 2025 including targets for specific materials
  • Ban landfilling of recyclable waste by 2025, while Member States should endeavour to virtually eliminate landfill by 2030.

He added: “The EU’s future industrial competitiveness will depend not only on using fewer raw materials, less energy and less water, but also on our ability to replace raw materials and imports with supplies of secondary raw materials, where they are available, and to produce goods that can be reused, repaired, refurbished and recycled.

“This is what we mean by a circular economy. In essence, we are proposing to make Europe a society without waste. We want to take the 600 million tonnes of materials contained in our waste and pump them back into productive use in the economy.”