On average, a European consumes around 16 tons of resources per year. This includes 500 kilograms of household waste alone. Only one-third of the resources consumed are recycled; the rest ends up in landfills, incinerators and in the environment. In the case of household waste, 60 percent is landfilled, incinerated or temporarily stored in other ways. As a result, the resources cannot be reused and have to be generated again elsewhere at the expense of the environment.
The main problem is the disposed plastic, which represents an enormous burden for the ecosystem of the oceans.

The solution could be a circular economy. As the EU Commission has calculated, such a system could reduce European CO2 emissions by around 450 million tons a year. This corresponds to a reduction of ten percent.

A true circular economy is still a long way off for Europe and the EU Circular Economy Package, which was adopted by the EU Commission in 2018, is only a small first step. In the future, we will need further legal requirements for waste prevention and measures to curb the increasing consumption of resources.

used espresso coffee capsules

Furthermore, a future-proof strategy for dealing with plastic is needed to reduce the consumption of disposable packaging in Europe. An EU-wide deposit system could be an important step towards a future without environmental waste. It is also important to establish ambitious reusable systems and to promote high-quality recycling projects in general.

Resource consumption must be limited to the quantities that can actually be renewed without harming the environment. A functioning circular economy is the basis for this.

The European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker made a proposal for a circular economy package on December 2, 2015. The year before, the predecessor Commission under José Manuel Barroso had already published an ambitious proposal, but later withdrew it. With the circular economy package now adopted, numerous changes to the areas of waste, packaging and packaging waste, landfilling and e-waste come into effect. However, the new draft does not match the original 2014 draft in many areas. Targets for reducing resource consumption are missing, as are concrete measures to counter the growing volume of waste. The promotion of environmentally friendly reusable systems in particular falls short of expectations, although it could make an important contribution to waste avoidance and resource conservation.

Together with European partners, we are working on the implementation of a circular economy package that meets the current requirements in the areas of environmental protection and circular economy. The basic prerequisites must be, for example, binding targets for waste avoidance, a stronger focus on recycling and the expansion of reuse. Mandatory eco-standards and minimum quotas for the use of recycled materials must also be created.