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The European resolution on the Circular economy: a story of opportunities
“Flanders is a leader in the circular economy in Europe and wants to support the new action plan in order to achieve the necessary scaling up.” MEP Johan Van Overtveldt reacts to the recycling resolution of the European Parliament. “The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the importance of strategic autonomy and stable supply chains. We must strengthen our value chains, make our industry and economy resilient, sustainable and competitive.”
More than sorting and recycling
The circular economy is much more than simply better sorting and recycling. It also means keeping the value of products and raw materials at its maximum in Europe, thus reducing the use of primary raw materials and decreasing our dependence on third countries. Circular companies are showing more resilience during the crisis. More circularity is also good for the environment and the climate. In Flanders, more than half of our emissions are linked to the use of materials. “It is therefore not surprising that a reduction in our use of materials is an important building block in the Flemish Energy and Climate Plan. By 2030, Flanders wants to reduce that footprint by 30%. The Netherlands also already has a benchmark. So we can certainly offer inspiration to other European Member States.”
Better design and reuse
Eighty per cent of the environmental impact of a product is determined during the design phase. Working on better design, which also facilitates reuse, is therefore a real prerequisite for circular success. The N-VA also welcomes the emphasis on “product-as-a-service” models (where you buy the use of the product rather than the product itself), the importance of recycled content in new products and less residual waste. Flanders is also already working hard on this. The work of Vlaanderen Circulair and the Henry Van De Velde Awards gallery of honour are excellent showcases of this. Furthermore, Flanders wants to limit residual household waste to 100 kg per person per year by 2030. It is currently more than 145 kg.
Emphasis on innovation
Johan Van Overtveldt is particularly pleased with the emphasis that the resolution places on innovation. Many new techniques can help us with the circular transition, ranging from chemical recycling, capturing CO2 (converting emissions into raw materials) and reusing it as a raw material, artificial intelligence, etc.
Governments’ role in setting an example
The N-VA has been arguing for sustainable tenders for some time, with a focus on reuse. Governments must set a good example. Public institutions within the EU spend around EUR 2,000 billion annually (14% of joint) on orders and investments of the most diverse nature. It’s a huge lever. Furthermore, the circular economy must also be an important link in the European recovery. The circular economy already occupies a prominent place in the Flemish proposals.
Ambition and a sense of reality
A circular economy must work in practice, Johan Van Overtveldt says. “The intention is to remove obstacles, for example, to achieve a level playing field for secondary materials. More measuring and monitoring is crucial in this regard. At the same time, we must avoid new obstacles arising. Rather than on so-called “non-toxic” recycling, our focus must be on safe products and processes.”