EU Science Hub

Waste and Circular Economy

At the end of 2015, the Commission launched its ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan. The transition to a more circular economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised, is an essential contribution to the EU's efforts to develop a sustainable, low carbon, resource efficient and competitive economy.

The JRC has collaborated closely with various Commission services to support the transition to such a circular economy. This started by stimulating the recycling sector with the development of the framework under which certain valuable waste streams can obtain 'end-of-waste' status. That initial work formed the foundations for JRC's more recent activities on developing nutrient recovery rules for waste based fertilisers. In addition, the JRC has been exploring the untapped technical potential of waste-to-energy and is updating Best Available Techniques for the management of extractive waste.


A first step towards recognising high quality waste materials as valuable secondary raw materials that deserve to enjoy the same open market rules for products like their primary raw material counterparts.

Nutrient recovery rules for waste based fertilisers

Developing quality criteria to keep valuable nutrients from waste in the agro-economic cycle and reduce dependency on fossil nutrient sources.

Untapped technical potential of waste-to-energy

In some circumstances, waste may prove difficult to prevent, reduce or recycle. In order to avoid landfilling of combustible waste, disposal options should focus on recovering a maximum of energy in such cases.

Best Available Techniques for the management of extractive waste

Ensuring minimal impacts on the environment from quarries, mines and on-shore oil & gas extraction sites by applying modern and proven techniques for the management of extractive waste.