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Europe needs to step up circular economy efforts: EU agency
Europe needs to step up circular economy efforts: EU agency
by AFP Staff Writers
Copenhagen (AFP) Mar 20, 2024

Europe must accelerate efforts to transform its economy into a circular one focussed on reusing or repurposing materials to cut waste, a necessity if it is meet climate targets, the European Environment Agency warned Thursday.

"Decisive action is essential to drastically reduce waste, prioritise reduction of resource use, improve recycling rates and improve the introduction of products that are designed for circularity from the outset," the Copenhagen-based agency said in a statement presenting a new report.

"We are still far from the ambition to double the Union's circularity rate by 2030," the EEA said, adding that there was a "low or moderate likelihood" that EU's ambitions would be "achieved in the coming years".

"We need an additional policy push," Daniel Montalvo, a climate expert at the agency, said at a press conference.

At the heart of the problem, according to the EEA, are business models in which products have a very short lifespan -- if they are even used at all.

"Business models primarily revolve around mass-producing products, often sacrificing quality, and this results in early breakdown or premature obsolescence," the EEA said.

A recent EEA study showed that four to nine percent of textiles introduced to the European market ended up being destroyed without ever having been used.

The processing and destruction of returned or unsold textiles is responsible for the equivalent of 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

At the same time, with its circularity rate of 11.5 percent in 2022, Europe still uses more recycled materials than any other region in the world.

But progress is slow, and policies to target the waste have been put in place only in the past five years.

To speed up the transition, the EEA has identified a number of areas for improvement, as well as a need to reduce overall consumption.

It cited for example the promotion of higher-quality recycling, where materials retain their original function and value for as long as possible, -- in order to reduce imports.

The agency also emphasised the importance of maximising the use and lifespan of products through reuse and repair.

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