According to the Glossary of the European Union Lex, circular economy is a system that maintains the value of products, materials, and resources in the economy for as long as possible, while minimizing the generation of waste. This is a system where products are reused, repaired, remanufactured or recycled. Circular economies also contribute to other features, including green recovery, climate change mitigation, energy savings, biodiversity protection, and global efforts towards sustainable development.
Since 2015, the European Commission has been working on an ambitious action plan to accelerate the EU’s transition towards a circular economy. Among other measures, the EU’s legislation on waste entered into force in 2018, establishing clear recycling targets and a long-term plan for modern waste management. It included targets for the recycling of municipal and packaging waste; combining strategies to reduce landfill to a maximum limit with measures to reduce food waste and marine litter.
In 2020 the Commission adopted a New Circular Economy Action Plan for the EU, in which it identified seven key value chains with high potential for circularity:
- electronics and ICT,
- batteries and vehicles,
- construction and buildings,
- food, water and nutrients;
The objectives of this plan are to ensure less waste; adapt circular economy strategies to the possibilities of citizens, regions, and cities; and enable Europe to lead global efforts on circular economy.