According to the environmental publication ENDS, the Netherlands Institute for Sustainable Packaging is claiming that the benefits to climate change the circular economy package published by the European Commission can bring have been understated. If implemented properly, the circular economy would bring the following benefits:
A 4.1% cut of overall EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would be reached if two thirds of municipal waste is recycled
European carbon emissions could be reduced by 5.4m tonnes per year if plastic packaging waste were recycled rather than incinerated
Increasing recycling to 67% for most packaging wastes by replacing both landfilling and incineration would avoid 180m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions
Still more benefits could be achieved by moving from recycling to reuse the study says: for example extending the lifespan of a tablet computer by one year can reduce its CO2 emissions by 21%.
Against this backdrop, the adoption of the circular economy should not only be swift, but even bolder, if Europe wants to fulfil its climate commitments and lead the way in reducing global warming. The technology and systems to make the circular economy a reality are already in place. However, these are often not fully utilised due to the costs incurred (notably in recycling), but also a lack of awareness relating to recycling and climate change effects. Both companies and the government should create awareness campaigns on how a simple action – such as recycling plastics – can make an impact on the environment and on our livelihoods; after all, everyone is enduring the effects of climate change, whether that is the total destruction of a village in the Caribbean due to a tornado to heavy rains in summertime which ruin fruit crops. Moreover, the EU institutions should aim at agreeing on a circular economy package which is both ambitious and workable, and which truly reflects on the EU’s environmental and social values. In addition, once adopted, the Commission and Member States should increase efforts to fully implement, enforce and fund the circular economy package.