Products that are more sustainable and that can be reused and repaired are good for the environment, the climate and consumers. The EU’s Sustainable Product Initiative (SPI) seeks to increase the circularity in society. However, several key aspects, such as the importance of renewable raw materials, risk being overlooked.
In its action plan for a circular economy, the European Commission has outlined a number of sustainability principles aimed at extending the circularity of products. Those principles are durability, reusability, upgradability and reparability. In addition, there will be a drive for greater material recovery and a higher content of recycled material in new products.
Reusing, repairing and extending the lifespan of products is crucial for making better use of our resources. But it is also important to consider what we are circulating and extending the sustainability of.
In the view of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation:
- There should be a principle that considers which raw material we are circulating. Raw materials that are renewable must be given due recognition and valued more highly.
- It is important to appreciate the differing circumstances of the different materials.
- The forest industry has spent a long time building up circularity for its products. Legislation and requirements therefore need to be designed so that they do not disrupt the functioning ecocycle that already exists or that is in development.
- All criteria are not always applicable to all products. It can be difficult to judge how sustainable fibre-based products (for example textiles, toilet paper or packaging material) are against criteria such as reparability, upgradability, etc.