EU targets for resource efficiency require quicker progress to ensure sustainable material use and strengthen strategic autonomy.

The European Commission has announced a revised circular economy surveillance framework to better track the progress of the transition to a more circular economy in the EU. The revised framework will help reduce material consumption and waste generation, and ensure sustainable use of materials in order to meet the EU’s resource efficiency targets and strengthen strategic autonomy.

The circular economy is essential for achieving climate neutrality, resilience, and global sustainability. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Marine and Fisheries, believes that rapid resource extraction is the root cause of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. The revised monitoring framework for the circular economy includes new indicators such as material usage and resource productivity, and new metrics to measure progress toward waste prevention goals.

While the EU’s production is becoming more resource efficient, material consumption remains high. European countries generated 35 kg of plastic packaging waste in 2020, a 25% increase from 2010. Large differences remain between Member States, and significant efforts are needed to improve waste management in some areas.

The circular economy sector is growing, becoming more innovative, and increasing in terms of investment, added value, and employment. Private investment in specific economic sectors linked to the circular economy is expected to reach €121.6 billion in 2021, equivalent to 0.8% of the EU’s GDP. Each sector employed 4.3 million people, an 11% increase compared to 2015, while value added in the circular economy sector increased by 27% to reach around €299 billion. Greenhouse gas emissions from EU production activities fell by around 25% in 2015.

The revised circular economy surveillance framework is essential to assess the effectiveness of EU policies and measures and to identify circularity best practices. Aligned with the indicators used to monitor progress toward environmental targets, EU SDG indicators, zero pollution monitoring and outlook, and the EU Resilience Dashboard, this framework will contribute to sustainability, climate neutrality, and resilience by taking into account consumption footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, dependence on imports of raw materials, and EU self-sufficiency in critical raw materials.

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