The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented the European Green Deal last Wednesday, 11 December, together with Vice-President Frans Timmermans. The central principle in the Green Deal is a growth strategy that will transform the EU into a prosperous, climate-neutral society with efficient use of raw materials and an increased competitive capacity.
The Commission’s proposal also contains specific policy instruments for the circular economy in the form of an action plan 2.0 for the EU. This policy plan focuses on supporting ‘the circular design of all products’. The policy instruments particularly target raw material-intensive sectors, such as textiles, construction, electronics and plastics production.
The action plan also mentions ‘prioritising the reduction and reuse of materials’ above recycling. Measures are also announced that will prevent environmentally unfriendly products from entering the EU market. “The comprehensive responsibility placed on producers will also be increased”, the document states, but no details are given as to how this will be achieved.
Although a lot will depend on the final detail of the policy instruments, the Port of Rotterdam Authority welcomes the Commission’s ambition and the emphasis being placed on the need to develop a robust and integrated internal market for secondary raw materials and by-products. It is also important to create market demand for secondary materials so that more recycled raw materials are used. To achieve this, the Commission is considering a compulsory recycled content for various product flows. To create an internal market for secondary raw materials, the waste definition under the Waste Framework Directive would also need to be narrowed, so that residual waste that is reusable and non-hazardous is not considered as waste. Finally, if the European Commission is to meet its CO₂ reduction targets for the circular economy, it is important that avoided CO₂ emissions from circular initiatives are acknowledged in the entire waste management chain.
Energy in transition
The Port of Rotterdam Authority is committed to combating climate change and wants to play a leading role in the global energy transition. The reduction of CO₂ emissions and efficient use of raw and residual materials are important tasks for the Port Authority.