The EU’s circular economy package can deliver more jobs and a better deal for customers, but only if it improves design standards and promotes demand for reused products and recycled materials, says think tank Green Alliance.
Drawing on lessons from the UK, Green Alliance today (19 August) publishes an infographic, which shows how better resource policies can support net jobs in areas of high unemployment, and deliver the longer-lasting products that householders want.
To realise these benefits across Europe, the new circular economy package must include measures to promote reuse and repair, especially eco-design and producer responsibility requirements that encourage reuse and demand for recycled materials.
The European Commission’s consultation on what the circular economy package should contain closes tomorrow, and the draft package will be announced at the end of the year.
Jonny Hazell, senior policy advisor – “The circular economy package could prove the foundation of a harmonised market in circular economy goods and services, provided it delivers products that are long-lasting, easy to repair and recycle”
Jonny Hazell, senior policy advisor, said: “As the world’s largest single market, Europe is in a unique position to secure the supply of products that are fit for the economy of the future. The circular economy package could prove the foundation of a harmonised market in circular economy goods and services, provided it delivers products that are long-lasting, easy to repair and recycle.
“Such a market would generate employment all round the EU and improve the competitiveness of European businesses. As importantly, it will deliver savings for households and reduce the global impact of European consumption.”
Research on the UK has shown that a more circular economy can address labour market problems that are common to many European countries. In particular, it can bring down unemployment in regions where it is especially high, with 54,000 net jobs estimated for the UK, and provide opportunities at all skill levels.
But realising these employment benefits depends on much higher levels of remanufacturing and repair, as these are the most valuable economic activities within a circular economy.
Through the circular economy package, the EU can help businesses to capture this value and develop these jobs by ensuring that products are designed with reuse and repair in mind. The package should also help develop markets for secondary products and materials by ensuring producer responsibility schemes encourage reuse and use of recycled materials.
A package that delivers these outcomes wouldn’t just boost employment, it would also provide households with the quality products they want and help Europe to stay competitive in a world of rising demand for materials.