Reed Smith Client Alerts

The EU has long sought to be a world leader in the transition to a ‘circular economy’.

A circular economy is one that decouples global economic development from finite resource consumption, and develops new models of doing business based on accessing services rather than owning products and the development of products that are specifically designed for remanufacturing, refurbishment and recycling. In a truly circular economy, waste is ‘designed out’; prices reflect real, full life-cycle costs; and renewable energy sources power the economy.

A circular economy therefore involves a fundamental shift away from the current linear ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ economic model that prevails in the EU and most other developed economies. Developments in this area should be monitored by producers of and traders in raw and recycled materials of all kinds, manufacturers of products and actors in all stages of the commodity and product value chain.

See: The implications of the transition to a ‘circular economy’, and overview of the content and current status of draft EU implementing legislation

In this client alert, we will provide a short summary of the EU Commission’s 16 January 2018 Circular Economy package.

European Union flags

Outline of the January 2018 package

On 16 January 2018, the EU Commission published a series of further communications and reports (but no new legislation) that involve further ambitious plans and policy proposals for the EU’s ongoing transition to a circular economy.

The package runs to well over 200 pages of text that give a high-level guide to the direction of travel in law and policy in this area. The package includes among other materials:

  • New EU ‘plastics strategy’, addressing the challenges posed by plastics throughout the value chain and taking into account their entire life-cycle
  • Communication on options to address the interface between EU chemical, product and waste legislation
  • Report on critical raw materials (CRMs) and the circular economy
  • Report on the use of oxo-degradable plastics in the EU
  • Communication on a monitoring framework for the circular economy
  • A Staff Working Document on the “key indicators” for a monitoring framework