Setting a new bar for sustainable products and circular innovation | European Green Deal Proposals & Regulation
The European Commission is continuously ambitious and responsible in paving a COVID-19 recovery that responds to climate change and growing demand in circular markets that generate tangible social and environmental value for Europe. This protects communities from further environmental degradation in consumer use, re-generates value and purpose in products, and creates a circular society with appetite for circular products. It also creates competition and a flow of responsible products in the EU market.
While every region has its challenge at the moment through continuous handlings of the pandemic and economic recovery, the European Commission and EU member states continue to set ambitious targets and new proposals on reductions of greenhouse gasses, climate neutrality, and new regulatory frameworks that might make the movement of the circular economy, a perfectly stitched built in environment across all EU member states. By far, most ambitious new agenda yet for sustainability.
So what has happened in the European Commission that has created such a momentous moment for sustainability and responsible production?
- Regulation for Ecodesign (Products/Commodities)
- EU Strategy for Sustainable/Circular Textiles
- Revised Construction Products Regulation
Already, the European Union set out its COVID-19 recovery plan through a regional, renewed Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020. President Ursula von Der Leyen set out this regional agenda that would tackle the economic crisis, yet also build back and grow in a way that has environmental ceilings. This plan also goes in great advancement of Europe’s Green New Deal that was set out in December 2019 to transform the regional economy into a fair, sustainable, and prosperous economy (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2022).
These efforts however, were not built from scratch. Since 2011, the European Union member states has had ambitious policy developments in a wide array of areas, influencing voting power and national environmental policy creating an evolution in the thinking and performance standards of the European Union. A true lesson for the polarized bipartisan pathways in the United States.
Comprehensive Growth–the Golden Agenda
So why have all these changes occurred? And what do they mean? What all these advancements continue to suggest is that the economy is not a mere platform of exchange of goods and services. How these products and services are informed have direct effects on natural environmental boundaries and human boundaries. Has the EU been able to outline even further ambitious targets from an already met goal of reaching certain environmental and GHG reduction targets? Yes, but given the critical perspectives , there are still some gaps as policy is dependent on implementation and small “wins.” Here is an interesting approach from UNEP that perhaps could scale even further in Europe for small “wins” — the Neighbourhood Approach (UNEP 2022).
While the Global South and the U.S. continue to build the foundations for circular education, incentives for circular businesses, and most important circular community engagement, there is much to learn from the new proposal set out by the European Union. Below is an explanation for the three proposals in bite-size formats.
These proposals are momentous and teachable in its capacity to use data driven technology and regulatory frameworks to forecast and shape a future that is responsible, consumer-informed, and resilient-resource efficient.
Emerging Markets and Circular Paths in other Emerging Circular Nations
While it would be ideal to set similar regulatory frameworks and standards in regions like North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia Pacific, certain foundations are still being built and developed. These are some of the areas of improvement that can perhaps enable a future parallel regulatory framework:
- Regulatory Policy to support the growth of new sustainable construction materials, responsible material sourcing of textiles
- Business incentives/development policy for circularity
- Regional Market | National Markets (Circular Markets)
- Circular Entrepreneurship| Innovative Business Models
- Venture Capital for Circular Businesses
- Circular Education
- Community Engagement
- Stakeholder Mapping
- Trust in Public Authorities (Environmental Protection Agencies/Ministries of Environment)
- Trust in the Circular — Supply Chain Transitions
- Circular Municipal Planning/Urban Planning (Circular Action Plans)
- Circular Municipal Team | Units
While there is much to do in growing circular nations as we can clearly see, solutions and strategies are feasible.
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