European Parliament seeking to tighten the European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan

Photo: Kerstin Jonsson

The European Parliament has provided its annotations to the European Commission’s Action Plan for a Circular Economy. The Action Plan is a key component of the European Green Deal, which will give rise to new laws and policies.

The implementation of the European Commission’s Action Plan for a Circular Economy is continuing in the EU. Last week, the European Parliament adopted its proposal with 574 votes in favour, 22 against, and 95 abstentions. The Swedish Forest Industries Federation welcomes the European Parliament’s decision to increase the potential of the plan by developing a sustainable bioeconomy to replace fossil fuels with renewable, bio-based materials.

The European Parliament stresses that the criteria and goals that are introduced must be product- or sector-specific. What do you read into this Kai-Yee Thim, director of products and product safety at the Swedish Forest Industries Federation?

“I interpret it as the European Parliament highlighting the need for diversity, and that the same requirements cannot be made to apply to all products from a political point of view. The starting point must instead be what’s relevant for each product. The parliament also points out that different industries need different measures in order to increase the recycling and reuse of their materials. This gives the forestry industry the conditions to build on our circular cycle.”

The European Parliament also emphasises the need for comprehensive impact assessments of legislative proposals before they’re hammered out. Why is that important?

“First of all, this is important in order to be sure that legislation will have the desired effect, but not create other negative consequences. Let’s look at a specific example: If the EU, in accordance with the Commission’s basic proposal, determines that recycled materials must be incorporated into products, regardless of whether they’re made from fossil-based or renewable raw materials, I interpret this as the European Parliament wanting to first assess how this affects current value chains and systems for recycling various types of materials.”

The example you mention has huge implications for the forestry industry. With all deference to impact assessments, here the European Parliament seems to want to tighten the Action Plan by way of binding targets to reduce the consumption of primary resources.

“Yes, there’s a risk that the EU wants to control the use of raw materials. This could have huge implications for countries with ample natural resources and industries based on them. I’m thinking primarily of the Nordic and Baltic countries. For the European forestry industry in particular, there’s a risk of destroying functioning value chains that already involve a high degree of recycling.”