EU and Circular Economy

  • Posted by: Ivan Cica
  • Category: Recycling

The EU adopts an aggressive Circular Economy Package to fortify Europe’s position as a leader in waste management

The goal of introduction of Circular Economy presents “closing the loop” of product lifecycles by improving recycling and re-use.

Circular Economy Package encompasses four directives that were adopted by the European Parliament on 18 April 2018 and by the EU Council on 22 May 2018. The directives were published in the Official Journal in June (OJ L 150), and are in force since 4 July 2018 and Member States are obliged to implement these directives in the next 2 years.

This legislative package changes the following directives:

  • The Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)
  • The Landfilling Directive (1999/31/EC)
  • The Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC)
  • The Directives on end-of-life vehicles (2000/53/EC), on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators (2006/66/EC), and on waste electrical and electronic equipment (2012/19/EU)

The main goal of all these directives is to revise waste management in the EU. This will contribute to the preservation, protection and, besides improving the quality of the environment, it will also reassure the economical and rational use of natural resources. Especially, the purpose of these directives is to implement the concept of “waste hierarchy”, which has been defined in the Article 4 of the Waste Framework Directive. The waste hierarchy establishes the desirability order        in waste management by which the landfilling of waste presents the last resort.

The main pillars of these revised proposals are:

  • A target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030
  • A target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030
  • A binding landfill target to reduce landfilling to a maximum of 10% of produced municipal waste by 2035
  • A ban of landfilling of separately collected waste
  • Promotion of economic instruments to discourage landfilling
  • Concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis – turning one industry’s by-product into another industry’s raw material
  • Economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes (e.g. for packaging, batteries, electric and electronic equipment, vehicles etc.)


Particularly eye-catching are the amendments to the Landfilling Directive.

Directive (EU) 2018/850 requires member states to significantly reduce their waste disposal by landfilling. This, apart from benefits that the environment will reap, will ensure that economically viable waste is recovered with proper waste management all in accordance with waste hierarchy. The final goal is to ensure that the use of landfills remain exceptional rather than something that is taken for granted. Recognizing that such reductions in the amounts of landfilled waste will require major changes in waste management and education of citizens, further progress and investment in collection, sorting and recycling of waste is expected and welcomed. An exception will be made for States that used landfills to dispose more than 60% of their municipal waste by 2013, they will be given another 5 years to meet their respective deadlines.