“Circular Economy - Features and Opportunities” is the topic of the latest opinion adopted by the Bulgarian Economic and Social Council in 2019. During the plenary discussion ESC members identified the circular economy as a topic "from" and "about" the future that is not so well known to the public but should find its place in public awareness, including by disseminating knowledge and information about it.
In the act ESC recommends accelerating the development of National Strategy, Roadmap and Action Plan for the Transition to a Circular Economy. ESC also recommends launching an information campaign among businesses and consumers to gradually reduce the linear economic model and to expand the circular model more widely. It is important for ESCs that tax incentives should be considered to stimulate the production of recyclables, reusables, and new goods from recyclables. The opinion draws attention to funding opportunities, incl. of public-private partnerships, and in particular the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises in the process, using sources such as the European Structural and Investment Funds, the future Horizon Europe Programme and more.
Moreover, the opinion pays special attention to research and innovation, waste policy and recycling, the need for strategic solutions in the field of plastics production and reuse and recycling.
In the analytical part of the opinion ESC notes that the circular turnover of materials in the Bulgarian economy in 2016 it is only 4.3% as compared to the EU average of 11%. The document identifies the circular economy as a major approach to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development and Low Carbon Economy targets as well as the climate targets under the Paris Agreement.
The document provides a thorough overview of the core elements of the circular economy from production, eco-design and energy labelling, through green public procurement and producer responsibility to sustainable waste management. With regard to waste management, ESC notes that the implementation of European waste shipment regulations will support the circular economy and curb the illegal transport and waste incineration in combustion plants. According to the opinion, it is also necessary to review the current regulations and some regulations that impede the operation of the circular economy model. Particular emphasis is placed on the need to link the municipal waste charges to the generated and treated waste.
As a specific topic in the circular economy, ESC notes the reduction of food waste, which, according to expert estimates, exceeds over 670,000 tonnes a year for Bulgaria, and considers it unjustified for households to discard nearly 40% of edible food. Water reuse is the subject of new research in this area and the creation of appropriate infrastructure. According to National Statistics, plastic waste (27%) is second only to packaging waste generated by manufacturers and consumers.
In its opinion, ESC also outlines opportunities for the development of the circular economy, focusing on the priority product categories of the circular economy that need to be developed. as soon as possible - packaging, food, electricity, electronic equipment, batteries, transport and mobility, textiles, buildings and construction, chemical products.
The annex to the document lists good practices in other EU countries.