EU should set 2030 targets for materials use and consumption footprint, MEPs say

The European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has called for science-based binding 2030 EU targets for materials use and consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market

The EU needs clear policy objectives to achieve a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050 at the latest, MEPs said on Wednesday.

The Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted its report on the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan, with 66 votes in favour, six against and seven abstentions.

Up to 80% of products’ environmental impact is determined at the design phase. The global consumption of materials is expected to double in the next forty years, while the amount of waste generated every year is projected to increase by 70% by 2050. Half of total greenhouse gas emissions, and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress, come from extracting and processing resources.

MEPs insisted that the current linear “take-make-dispose” economy must be transformed into a truly circular economy, based on a series of key principles such as preventing waste and reducing energy and resource use. Products should be designed in a way that reduces waste, harmful substances and pollution, and protects human health. The consumer benefits of a circular economy should be made clear, they said.

The committee called for science-based binding 2030 EU targets for materials use and consumption footprint, covering the whole lifecycle of each product category placed on the EU market.

To this end, they urged the Commission to introduce in 2021 harmonised, comparable and uniform circularity indicators for material and consumption footprints.

They also called on the Commission to propose product-specific and/or sector-specific binding targets for recycled content, while ensuring the performance and safety of the products concerned and that they are designed to be recycled.

MEPs strongly endorsed the Commission’s intention to broaden the scope of the Ecodesign Directive to include non-energy-related products. They insisted that new legislation should be put forward in 2021 and that it should set horizontal sustainability principles and product-specific standards so that products placed on the EU market perform well, are durable, reusable, can be easily repaired, are not toxic, can be upgraded and recycled, contain recycled content, and are resource- and energy-efficient.

Rapporteur Jan Huitema (Renew Europe, NL) said that Europe should embrace the transition to a circular economy.

“Europe is not a resource-rich continent, but we have the skills, the expertise and the ability to innovate and develop the technologies needed to close loops and build a waste-free society,” he said. “This will create jobs and economic growth and bring us closer to reaching our climate goals: It’s a win-win.”

The report will be put to the vote during the February plenary sitting.

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