Presentation of the Circular Economy Package. Copyright by EU Christophe Licoppe.

EU Commission: Circular economy as a goal

In March 2022, the EU Commission presented the new circular economy package: It is a turning point for sustainable products and textiles as well as for the strengthening of consumers' rights.

The new comprehensive circular economy package is another big step forward for the transition to a climate-neutral circular economy in the EU that is more resilient, reduces raw material import dependencies, protects the environment and nature as well as human health.

As already announced in the 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan, sustainable products should become the norm in the EU market. With the proposals presented, almost all products should become more durable throughout their life cycle or be able to be repaired, reused or recycled. This applies to goods such as smartphones, textiles, furniture as well as building products. At the same time, consumers should be better informed about the sustainability of products and protected from greenwashing. An overview of the innovations is presented below.

The new circular economy package includes the following central approaches:

  • Sustainable Products Initiative to promote the circularity of products, including a reform of the Ecodesign Directive.
  • Strategy for sustainable and circular textiles
  • Proposal to revise the Construction Products Regulation
  • New rules to empower consumers

Sustainable Products and Ecodesign Directive

The Communication on Sustainable Products sets out a number of key measures that are important levers for reshaping the economy and society. For example, the new ecodesign requirements, the introduction of digital product passports or activities to prevent the destruction of unsold consumer products. In the proposal for an Ecodesign Regulation for sustainable products, new requirements are foreseen to make products more sustainable and reliable, reusable, upgradable and repairable, easier to maintain, refurbish or recycle, and energy and resource efficient. The proposal extends the existing ecodesign framework. Firstly, the framework aims to cover as wide a range of products as possible, and secondly, to extend the scope of the requirements that products must meet.

Sustainable and circular textiles

With the Textile Strategy, the EU Commission proposes far-reaching steps for a transformation in the textile and clothing sector. The Vision 2030 for textiles and concrete measures are to ensure that all textile products placed on the market in the EU are more durable, repairable and recyclable, made as far as possible from recycled fibres and free of hazardous substances. That the "fast fashion" business model goes out of fashion and that circular clothing becomes the norm in combination with the new eco-design requirements. Furthermore, that sufficient recycling capacities are built up. Other proposals include the introduction of extended producer responsibility, restrictions on the export of textile waste and incentives for circular business models.

Sustainable construction products

The revised Construction Products Regulation will strengthen and modernise the rules that have been in place since 2011. It will create a harmonised framework for assessing and communicating the environmental and climate performance of construction products. New product requirements will ensure that the design and manufacture of construction products are based on state-of-the-art technology to make them more durable and easier to repair, recycle or remanufacture.

New rights for consumers

The Commission is also proposing to update EU consumer rules to raise awareness of environmental change. The proposals aim to enable consumers to make well-informed and environmentally friendly choices when buying products. Whether it is a mobile phone or a household appliance, people will be better informed about the lifespan of the product and whether it can be repaired. The new rules will also better protect consumers from misleading greenwashing practices or premature obsolescence of products.

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