Yesterday evening in Davos, the European Commission was awarded the 2019 Circular Economy prize by the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, as recognition of the work done to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy that protects the environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions while delivering opportunities for jobs, growth and investment. Vice-President Katainen and Commissioner Vella received The Circulars prize offered in the category “Public Sector” on behalf of the Commission.
First Vice-President Timmermans, who was unable to attend the ceremony, but has been a key actor in the Commission’s work on the circular economy, said:
"I would like to share this prize with the European circular economy community, including businesses, public authorities, and civil society engaged in the circular transition, and with 500 million Europeans. We need their active involvement to push the transformation that has already started forward."
Vice-President Katainen said: “This prize is an acknowledgement of the work done in the past years and of the fact that the circular economy can indeed boost businesses’ competitiveness, open up new markets for green products and services and create jobs in Europe. And it also encourages us to do more."
EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella commented: “We started with a very ambitious and comprehensive plan how to change our economy. This award recognises that our choice of 'redesign, reuse, recycle' is the right one for the environment and the industry alike. Such recognition puts even more responsibility on us to continue in the spirit of circularity."
In 2015, the Commission established a unique comprehensive strategy, the Circular Economy Package, aiming to close the resource loop by introducing measures covering the whole lifecycle of products and materials – from production and consumption to management of waste and its re-use as secondary raw materials in the economy. The suggested measures also tackle climate change with energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and include the first-ever European Strategy for Plastics. The Commission has delivered more than 90% of the 54 planned actions and is currently reflecting on which steps are now needed to make Europe ever more sustainable. A circular economy is part of the modernisation and transformation needed for the EU to become the world's first major economy to go climate neutral by 2050, as per the long-term strategy put forward by the Commission in November 2018.
The Circulars award offers recognition to individuals and organisations across the globe that are making notable contributions to the circular economy in the private sector, public sector and society. It is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, run in collaboration with Accenture Strategy.
Organisers received 43 applications in the “Public sector” category for the 2019 edition; they are mostly Governments, governmental agencies, NGOs and public bodies. Overall, the awards had 437 applicants.
In 2015, as part of the Circular Economy Package, the European Commission adopted the Circular Economy Action Plan, envisaging actions to "close the loop" of product and material lifecycles through better eco-design, greater recycling and re-use to the benefit of both the environment and the economy. Some of the actions of the Circular Economy Action Plan include:
- Legislative proposals on waste, adopted by the Parliament and the Council in May 2018 and into force since July 2018;
- A revised Fertilisers Regulation focusing in particular on waste-based and organic fertilising products, currently being finalised;
- The first ever European Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy, including a legislative proposal on single-use plastic items and a Circular Plastics Alliance;
- A Monitoring Framework for the Circular Economy;
- A European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform;
- The Ecodesign Work Plan 2016-2019;
- Guidance documents in the areas of – among others – industrial emissions, water management, recycling of construction & demolition waste, unfair commercial practices and Green Public Procurements.
The initiative “Towards an EU Product Policy Framework contributing to the Circular Economy” will be published in the first quarter of 2019. It will consist of an analysis of the potential for the circular economy in certain product groups and to what extent this potential is currently being addressed by EU product policy tools. An open consultation is ongoing.
The European Commission will report on its contribution to the circular transition through a Circular Economy Action Plan implementation report, due for publication by February 2019. The report will also explore untapped potentials.
22 January 2019