In the beginning of the year the European Commission withdrew their 2014 proposal for a circular economy package, stating that it was to be replaced by a new, more ambitious proposal by the end of 2015. Two main reasons have been given for the withdrawal: Firstly, the overall approach presented in July 2014 had a rather exclusive focus on waste management, without appropriately exploring synergies with other policies. Secondly, the Commission will examine how to make the waste proposal more country specific, and how to improve the implementation of waste policy on the ground.
The new proposal is highly relevant for private forest owners, as the Commission has announced that the new Circular Economy Strategy will address all stages of the life cycle of products, including the extraction of raw materials, including wood as a key renewable raw material.
On 28 May 2015 the Commission launched a public consultation on the Circular Economy, open until 20 August 2015. The consultation addresses, amongst other things, the production phase as well as the sustainable sourcing of raw materials, where the input from forest owners is essential.
CEPF has provided input to the consultation, emphasising the importance of the Circular Economy Strategy to promote a shift from fossil-based to biomass-based products. Europe's circular economy, with bioeconomy as an integral component, needs to and will increasingly be based on renewable resources, where Europe's forests and its woody biomass have a key role to play.
In parallel with the work in the Commission, the European Parliament’s ENVI committee prepared an own-initiative report on the circular economy, led by rapporteur Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI). The report was adopted by the Parliament plenary on 9 July 2015, with 394 votes in favour, 197 against and 82 abstentions. Despite CEPF’s lobbying efforts to exclude the cascade use principle from the text, and instead focus on resource efficiency, the final adopted report calls for the “implementation of a cascading use of resources, notably in the use of biomass”.