Minister Mikkonen: Commission Action Plan for the Circular Economy an important opening to solve the sustainability crisis – Designing durable and easy-to-repair products
“The Circular Economy Action Plan of the EU published by the European Commission today is an important opening to solve the sustainability crisis. It has a strong focus on sustainable product design, which is an absolute necessity to promote the circular economy. Most of the products placed on the market in future must be designed so that they are durable and easy to repair, reuse and recycle. The percentage of recycled materials in products must be increased, while reducing the use of harmful substances in new products,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.
“I am pleased to see that many issues we put forward during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, such as product design and extending the circular economy to new sectors, have now been included in the Circular Economic Action Plan. Transition towards a circular economy in our key sectors enables the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions from industry by as much as 50% by 2050. The pressure on the natural environment caused by consumption will also decrease when natural resources are used more wisely and materials circulate more efficiently,” Minister Mikkonen says.
The Circular Economy Action Plan will guide the EU priorities for the circular economy in coming years. The directive to be prepared by the Commission will require ecodesign that follows the principles of the circular economy in key product groups in terms of the environment.
The consumers’ right to have their products repaired will be promoted by focusing first on electrical, electronic and IT products. Digital product passports are proposed as a means to communicate reliable and comparable information to businesses and consumers. The aim is to ensure a safe value chain for all products, especially batteries. An EU-wide return system for small electronic devices is also being planned.
“It must be as easy as possible to make sustainable consumption decisions. We should all have access to reliable information on the environmental impacts of products. The legislation should provide an even stronger framework for guiding sustainable product design. I hope that the Commission will soon give concrete proposals concerning product policy,” Minister Mikkonen says.
The Commission also intends to extend the circular economy to new sectors. According to the Action Plan, the circular economy measures will focus on resource-intensive sectors such as the construction, textile, electronics and plastics industry.
“Buildings must be designed so that they are resource-efficient and versatile throughout their lifecycle. Buildings are in fact material banks. The premises and e.g. demolition materials should be utilised more efficiently. It is also important to use low-carbon products and energy in buildings. The work on amending the Construction Products Regulation of the EU that is now getting started is an important step in the right direction,” Minister Mikkonen says.
In terms of textiles, the Commissions intends to prepare a comprehensive EU strategy for fair and sustainable textiles in 2021. Incentives are provided for the development of innovative materials, technologies and business models so that durability and recyclability are already taken into account in products design. The Member States should implement the separate collection of post-consumer textiles by 2025.
On 10 March, the EU also published the Industrial Policy Strategy, where the circular economy and digitalisation have a key role. The Action Plan and Industrial Policy Strategy are both part of the European Green Deal that aims for a climate-neutral, competitive and secure Europe.
Sarianne Tikkanen, Senior Specialist, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 042 (Circular Economy Action Plan)
Taina Nikula, Ministerial Adviser, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 202 (Circular Economy Action Plan)
Harri Hakaste, Senior Architect, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 074 (circular economy in construction)
Riikka Yliluoma, Special Adviser to the Minister, [email protected], tel. +358 295 250 091