The concept of circular economy is a model of production and consumption, based on extending the lifecycle of products and reducing waste to a minimum. Conversely, the traditional linear resource extraction and processing methods are responsible for half of total greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress. This is why decoupling resource use from economic growth is more important than ever.
Managing the life cycle of natural resources, from extraction to waste is essential to achieve sustainable growth and develop a resource-efficient, circular economy. Circular economy systems keep the added value in products for as long as possible so that they can be productively used again, creating further value and eliminating waste. Transition to a more circular economy requires changes throughout value chains, from new ways of turning waste into a resource to new modes of consumer behaviour.
To achieve a climate-neutral and resource-efficient economy, the European Commission launched a Circular Economy Action Plan as part of the agenda for sustainable growth. The plan focuses on the sustainable design of products and a mode of consumption to empower consumers that would allow waste prevention and keeping the resources used in the EU economy for as long as possible. However, according to the last EEA report, circular economy initiatives in Europe are still at an early stage and would benefit from more investments in upscaling promising innovations and in monitoring progress towards circularity.