Circular Economy

General framework

The EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy was adopted by the European Commission in 2015 and establishes measures covering the whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials and a revised legislative proposal on waste. The annex I in the plan shows the timeline when all these actions have to be implemented. These actions will contribute to monitored product lifecycles through a greater recycling and re-use.

In 2018, the European Commission adopted a Europe-wide EU Strategy for Plastics in the Circular economy which consist the way plastics and plastics products are designed, produced, used and recycled. Due to this strategy, all plastics should be recyclable by 2030. Another important documents is also a Monitoring Framework on progress towards a circular economy at EU and national level, which consists of a ten key indicators which cover each phrase – i.e. production, consumption, waste management and secondary raw materials, etc.

On 4 March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges to shaping our economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimised.

EU product policies within Circular Economy package

EU product policies within Circular Economy package

Many EU policies contribute to the transition to a circular economy by influencing how products should be designed, produced, used or treated at their end-of-life. Given the diversity in products, which include technologies and services, these policies are necessarily also diverse as they address different product groups, environmental impacts and phases of the product life cycle, and have diverse objectives and methods to achieve them.

While many policy instruments addressing products and services on the EU market predate the Circular Economy Action Plan, most of them pursue objectives that contribute to the transition to a circular economy.

One of the most important legislation is the EU Product Policy Framework contributing to the Circular Economy which explores the product groups and analyses to what extent EU policies for products are supporting the transition to a circular economy. At the same time to explore where there is potential for a stronger contribution and where are still the loopholes for products in the circular economy.

Based on that, the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling framework has been one of the most effective policies at EU level to promote energy efficiency and can contribute to around half of the Energy Union target for energy savings by 2020. This framework had the dual purpose of ensuring that more energy-related products come to the market (through Ecodesign) while supporting and encouraging consumers to purchase more and more efficient products based on regulated information (through energy labelling).

Latest updates on Ecodesign and energy labelling

Want to know more about REHVA latest updates on Ecodesign and energy labelling?

Towards a circular economy in the buildings sector

Level(s) is a voluntary reporting framework to foster sustainability of buildings and it is one of the tools and instrument to facilitate the transition towards a more Circular economy together with other tools such as EU Ecolabel (sustainable products and services), GPP (Green Public Procurement) and many others.

With using existing standards, Level(s) provides a common EU approach to the assessment of environmental performance in the built sector.

Level(s) aimed to create a common European drive towards improved performance across six areas: lifecycle emissions, resource efficiency, water use, health and comfort, resilience and adaptation and cost and value. Within Level(s) framework, each indicator is designed to link the individual building’s impacts with the priorities for sustainability at the European level, with over 130 buildings projects in 21 countries via which the Level(s) are tested.

The scope of the Level(s) framework is focused on office and residential buildings, encompasses both new and existing buildings. The target groups for this framework are:

  • Building designers, constructors and managers  

  • Design teams (including architects, engineers and quantity surveyors).

  • Property owners; end users.

  • Construction and demolition management (including construction managers and lead contractors).

  • Public and private organisations that will occupy the buildings assessed.

Read more on Level(s) and a common EU framework of core sustainability indicators for office and residential buildings  here.

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