Waning resources on the one side and growing mountains of waste on the other side are calling for a rethink of the way we live today, and, in particular the way how we manufacture, use, and deposit our products. We need to switch from a linear "extract-transform-use-throw-away" economy to a circular economy, i.e. an industrial economy which not only avoids waste and pollution but reuses, repairs, remanufactures and recycles. In its opinion on the "Circular Economy Package" ...
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In March 2017, the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) launched a joint European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP). The platform’s 24-member coordination group has now been chosen and the list of participants published.
Globally, the volume of trade in the sharing economy is estimated at around EUR 17.8 billion, with rapid annual growth forecast until 2025. In response to a request from the Dutch presidency, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has issued an opinion on the sharing economy and self-regulation which calls on the EU to “urgently define a clear and transparent legal framework within which these activities should be developed and implemented in the European area”.
Transition to a circular economy is a must if we are to protect our planet, but also if we are to increase the competitiveness of European industry. This is a long-term process that will require numerous initiatives at European, national and regional level. Companies see the circular economy as an opportunity. "Going green" is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for businesses, providing real savings in terms of raw materials, water and energy. Apart from its environmental and economic benefits, the circular economy also has social advantages, providing new jobs and new business models.
EESC Consumer Day in Malta revealed the need for better regulation.
The EESC Plenary today highlighted the importance of the collaborative economy and the functional economy as new business models for a more sustainable Europe. But it also called on the Commission to ensure that the collaborative economy does not increase job insecurity and the opportunity for tax avoidance. Nudge thinking is one way to achieve this. The Committee debated a number of key issues affecting Europe's future economic development with Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen.
The functional economy focuses on the use of a product rather than its ownership. Specifically, with the functional economy model, a company sells the right to use a product of which it maintains ownership. The famous example is Michelin, which no longer sells tires for fleets of company cars, but supplies "mobility services" consisting of repairing, retreading and in some cases exchanging tires. The economic outcome is that the company has an interest in making its products last as long as possible because the price is based on usage (in this case, the number of kilometres driven) and thus in reducing waste.
Sustainable Development Goals: Implementation in Europe – United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) Opportunities for Engagement of Major Groups and Stakeholders (MGS)
The EESC is drawing up an opinion on the Commission's recent communication dedicated to waste to energy. This public hearing aimed at gathering stakeholders' views on this critical aspect of the waste management and the transition towards a circular economy.
Many consumer products could have a longer service-life. However, particularly in the IT and household appliance sectors, some components seem to be designed to become obsolete so that the product becomes unusable after a certain period of time or rely on the use of specific consumable items. This has a number of damaging consequences: the cost to consumers of early replacement of the product or dependence to expensive consumable items, the overuse of natural resources and raw materials.