A circular economy could increase the efficiency of primary resource consumption in Europe and the world. By conserving materials embodied in high value products, or returning wastes to the economy as high‑quality secondary raw materials, a circular economy would reduce demand for primary raw materials. This would help to reduce Europe's dependence on imports, making the procurement chains for many industrial sectors less subject to the price volatility of international commodity markets and supply uncertainty due to scarcity and/or geopolitical factors.
European Environmental Agency
With the latest forecasts suggesting that the global population is likely to exceed 11 billion by the end of the 21st century and with the evident depletion of natural resources as well as the ever growing marine litter problem, it is impossible to ignore the being created by the way we produce, consume and dispose our waste. A new approach is needed to answer the environmental problems. The concept of circular economy challenges the current linear model. Its prerogative is resource conservation and it has the potential to fully close the loop.
According to the report by Ellen MacArthur by 2050 there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish if we continue with the business as usual - the ‘take, make, dispose’ model which is highly unsustainable. The scale of this alarming news shows how global waste management has been neglected over the past decades. Marine litter affects biodiversity, it enters the food chain and eventually has an impact on our health. Adapting the circular economy, which stands for eco-design, waste prevention, recycling and energy efficiency, would tackle this problem. Designing eco-friendly, easily recyclable and energy efficient products by using fewer resources would enable manufacturing durable goods that could be recycled into quality recyclates. Incineration should be the last resort when options like recycling, repair or reuse are not feasible. As a consequence, the maximum of available resources would be restored and virtually no waste would be landfilled. Furthermore, this transition would result in a snowball effect by positively impacting our lives, our health and would save natural resources, boost creation of cleaner industries, reduce our dependency on foreign resources and boost new jobs and new technologies.
Circular economy is an important tool to challenge energy consumption, resources depletion and pollution. It is the pillar of sustainable development as it enables decoupling of economic development from the natural resources consumption. The momentum is there, Europe is in the position to become the pioneer of the green economy and to offset the negative externalities of the linear model. Europe has laid out the ground work to facilitate the transition by introducing the Circular Economy Package. However, it is not acceptable that recycling remains still on the third position behind landfill and incineration. By pushing for higher targets, global recyclability guidelines, ban on landfill and standards on sorting we can change the current state of the affairs.