Two years after the adoption of EU Circular Economy Package in December 2015, more than half of the initiatives included in the Action Plan have been delivered by the European Commission.
To discuss upcoming deliverables, explore new areas of action, and share the first achievements of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, the Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee hosted a Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference with a participation of over 300 people on day one and around 200 people during day 2.
During the first day, the speakers from the European Commission, inter alia 4 Commissioners (Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and finally Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness) highlighted the importance to move into a Circular Economy, partly concentrating very much on plastics. Here, Timmermans confirmed that the Commission is working on a new piece of legislation, namely on the single use plastics, which should be ready in May 2018. All plastics should be made reusable or recyclable until 2030 and would otherwise be banned. The topic of litter and marine litter was highlighted by Katainen who admitted that the marine litter problem can only be solved internationally and that the European Union will have to engage more.
Moreover, several stakeholders reported about their voluntary commitments which the European Commission is demanding especially from industry to avoid further legislative measures.
The second day consisted of several “Participatory circles”, inter alia a session about “The real potential of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) organized and very well moderated by Esther Colino Caro (Ecoembes). In this session Sarah Nelen (DG ENVI, Waste Unit), Hakan Jentoft (City of Oslo) and EXPRA’s MD Joachim Quoden were invited as panelists and shared their views with the audience of nearly 100 persons.
It could be noted also during the discussion, that no one of the stakeholders is doubting the right of existence of EPR anymore. Of course, everyone knows how to do it in practice, especially how to do it better than in certain countries. Mr Jentoft for example developed the idea that all packaging which is not recyclable should be excluded from the collective systems to avoid that these packaging benefits from those packaging which is recycled. Especially the eco modulation of the EPR fees is on the focus of many people, with a lot of concerns of obliged industry that the internal market might be disturbed. Overall, it was a very lively debate where it was not possible to ask and answer all questions of the audience.