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Higher recycling targets to drive transition to a Circular Economy; Green Employment Initiative

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The Commission adopted proposals to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling in the Member States

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "We are living with linear economic systems inherited from the 19th Century in the 21st Century world of emerging economies, millions of new middle class consumers, and inter-connected markets. If we want to compete we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste. Moving to a circular economy is not only possible, it is profitable, but that does not mean it will happen without the right policies. The 2030 targets that we propose are about taking action today to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and exploiting the business and job opportunities it offers."

Instead of extracting raw materials, using them once and throwing them away, the new vision is for a different economic model. In a circular economy, re-use, repair and recycling become the norm, and waste is a thing of the past. The package includes non-legislative policy communications on circular economy, green employment initiative, green action plan for SMEs and sustainable buildings. The legislative part of the package includes the review of the existing waste legislation and proposes new targets for various waste streams, it proposes to recycle 70 % of municipal waste and 80 % of packaging waste by 2030. The legislative proposals refer mainly to the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. In addition to the targets review, waste legislation will be simplified, and co-operation between the Commission and Member States will be stepped up to ensure better implementation. The legislative proposals will now pass to the Council and the European Parliament. The Commission has also today adopted a Communication outlining the employment challenges and opportunities of the current transition towards a green, low carbon, energy and resource-efficient economy. The Green Employment Initiative Communication presents an integrated framework to allow labour market and skill policies to play an active role to support this transition.

Press release and accompanying memos (questions and answers on the Commission Communication "Towards a Circular Economy" and the Waste Targets Review, questions and answers on sustainable buildings and Green Action Plan for SMEs: combining a lasting recovery with a resource-efficient European economy)

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