The Environment Council at its meeting adopted conclusions on the EU action plan for the circular economy. You can find the conclusions in full here and a summary of key points below.

Summary of Council conclusions

On the European Plastics Strategy, the Council conclusions:

  • Call on the Commission to present as soon as possible an integrated product policy framework, broadening the principle of eco-design to all product groups with appropriate product regulation;
  • Call on the Commission to accelerate the development of quality standards for sorted plastics waste and recycled plastics;
  • See the improvement of the sorting and the decontamination of waste as a prerequisite for increasing the recycling of plastic and plastics products à Support the Commission in developing guidance to facilitate more standardized and effective practices in separate collection and waste sorting;
  • Stress the role of EPR schemes, primary sorting systems for different waste streams and deposit systems to boost high-quality separate collection and engage producers over the whole product life cycle;
  • Strongly encourage the Commission to enhance EU instruments for rewarding eco-innovation in product design and innovation in reusing, sorting and recycling;
  • Call on the Commission to work on harmonized definitions and rules for labelling plastic and plastic products;
  • Highlight the importance of implementing the most recent targets and requirements for packaging waste while noting the importance of stimulating the demand for recycled materials à Recognize the need for objective verification and quantification of recycled content;
  • Welcome and commit to a rapid examination of the SUP proposal;
  • Call on the Commission to strengthen the link between public procurement requirements and the use, reuse and recycling of plastics products and recycled content of plastics products, and on the Member States to step up action in support of green public procurement;
  • Call on the Commission to assess and, where appropriate, provide additional support towards the development of innovative recycling technologies and capacities in the EU;

On the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, the Council conclusions:

  • Call on the Commission and Member States, together with ECHA, to define substances of concern to be minimized or eliminated in products and waste;
  • Encourage the Commission’s actions to develop a methodology addressing the management of waste containing substances of concern and also in consultation with Member States to identify waste types that typically contain legacy chemicals and that could successfully be recycled in a restricted set of specific applications that are safe for health and the environment;
  • Favour the establishment of guidelines to promote best practices and harmonized rules to allow a clear distinction between waste and product status avoiding duplication of burdens for the operators to comply with two sets of rules;

On monitoring and follow-up, the Council conclusions:

  • Request the Commission to provide the Council with an annual written report on the progress made on the implementation of the Action Plan for the Circular Economy.

In addition, speaking at the Council meeting, EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella said that the Single-Use Plastics (SUP) proposal will be treated as a matter of priority by both the Council and the European Parliament, with the aim of getting a first reading agreement by next Spring.