Developing the Circular Economy in the European Union

  • Andrew FarmerEmail author


The European Union has adopted legislation and other supporting policies across a range of areas to facilitate the development of a Circular Economy. Building on earlier initiatives on waste management and resource efficiency, the policies coalesced in the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan. This sets out a series of actions covering several issues, with a particular focus on resource efficiency, improved waste management and support for innovation. EU waste law has been revised promoting increased recycling, and most recently to tackling the growing problem of single-use plastics. However, while there are actions to support waste prevention, there are not legal targets on this issue. There are still challenges for joined-up action to deliver a Circular Economy. This includes addressing the nature of consumption by citizens, as well as technical issues such as how secondary materials meet objectives in chemicals and product legislation. A further challenge is the wide diversity of waste and materials management across the EU, such as very different recycling rates between countries. Delivering a Circular Economy means leaders needing to push with innovation and laggards needing help to achieve basic waste and material objectives.


Circular Economy European Union Resource efficiency Plastics Extended producer responsibility Recycling Waste 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Head of Natural Resources and Circular Economy ProgrammeInstitute for European Environmental PolicyLondonUK

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