Missing pieces to a circular economy: closing the loop by reimagining consumption
In the context of the climate emergency, there is no question that we need to rethink the traditional linear economic model of production and consumption – as conveyed in the Circular Economy Action Plan, one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal. Circularity is, in fact, a cross-cutting aspect of climate, energy and mobility policies, for instance, when developing energy-efficient buildings or implementing shared transport systems.
The recent proposals on ecodesign and ecolabels are steps in the right direction, as regulatory changes and clear ‘game rules’ for markets are a priority in any transformation towards a circular economy. With the complementary Green Claims Directive, which aims to crack down on greenwashing, there is hope for a more coherent policy framework – depending on how it enters into force. In 2020, the European Commission assessed that around 40% of the environmental claims made about products in the EU were unsubstantiated.
People need to be empowered to make conscious buying decisions. At the same time, powerful stakeholders associated with globalised production, trade, media and advertising should be incentivised to move away from a linear model of consumption. To ensure the move to a completely circular economy in Europe, where production and utilisation patterns change and where the nature of consumption is reimagined, greater efforts should be made to include the ecological reality in our markets and reflected in costs, habits and accountability.
This debate will look into how policy can ease the barriers to repair, as well as provide information and incentives to all market actors to make circular economy-consistent decisions.
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