An overview for all EU member states reveals 28 different paths towards the “circular economy” with inspiring best practices. Countries leading the way typically have the highest waste production as well.
The member states’ path into the “circular economy” reflects their unique character, the presence of leadership and inspiring examples of good practice for preventing waste.
For instance, in the Netherlands, a Green Deal Circular Procurement directed over € 100 million in procurement done circular. In France 20 extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes were introduced in 14 sectors, with a 20 per cent share of recycled materials used and 83 per cent of SMEs minimising waste. Sweden pushes reuse with a low VAT rate and income tax reduction for certain repairs. Italy increased its municipal waste recycling rate from 17 to 45 per cent since 2001 and Portugal introduced a broad policy mix including many EPR schemes.
However, leading countries typically have also a long way to go with high amounts of municipal waste per person, which vary from 261 to 783 kg per year.
“Member states are key to create an enabling policy framework that substantially supports companies to switch to circular business models” says Manfred Mühlberger, President of Ecopreneur. “A proven way to kickstart the circular economy is to generate demand by launching a “green deal” between the government, cities and companies on green public procurement.” These deals included an accompanying training programme where purchasing managers learn how to procure in a circular way. Public-private partnerships (“hubs”) assisting SMEs and leading companies to develop circular products and services help to generate supply. Moreover, a growing number of member states have developed a a roadmap for the transition to a circular economy. They provide economic incentives with EPR fees in a growing number of sectors and tax reductions such as low VAT rates for repair services and resold products. Recommended next steps include a tax shift from labour to resources and steering investments away from municipal waste incineration to waste prevention and recycling. An important role for the EU is to develop a stronger supporting programme and secure the alignment and harmonisation of policies.
The final report, which includes new infographics and comments received on a draft published in May, can be downloaded here: https://ecopreneur.eu/publications/positionpapersreports/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – ECOPRENEUR.EU
Ecopreneur.eu sets a course toward sustainable economic policies on the European level to support the economic and societal transformation across Europe and beyond. Ecopreneur.eu aims at opening solidified structures and brings sustainable matters to European policy makers. Ecopreneur is a non-profit non-governmental organisation that now holds six associations from different member states. Together they represent over 3000 green businesses, mostly SMEs.
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