EU manufacturers face green product requirements in draft 'circular economy' policy

21 February 2020 17:03

EU manufacturers will see mandatory "sustainability rules applicable to all products" proposed by the European Commission in future legislation to boost the bloc's move toward a more "circular" economic model, according to a draft policy paper seen by MLex.

The proposed measures include environmentally friendly design rules for mobile phones, chargers, printers as well as recycled-content requirements for batteries.

"The commission will present a sustainable product policy framework applicable to raw materials, intermediate and consumer products," including steel, cement and chemicals, the paper says.

A EU-wide program to return or sell back old mobile phones, tablets and chargers is also listed among future measures.

The draft policy paper "for a cleaner and more competitive Europe" says that future regulation will introduce "specific requirements for products" by category.

The policy paper is expected to be presented by the commission on March 10, together with a new EU plan to reboot the bloc's industrial sector.

As part of its efforts to reach climate neutrality by 2050, the commission wants to boost the uptake of green products and reduce the environmental impact of several industrial value chains — electronics, ICT, plastics, textiles, construction, packaging, food and batteries — which are identified in the plan as a "matter of priority."

"Applying circular economy principles in all sectors and industries can increase EU's GDP growth rate by an additional 0.5 percent by 2030 creating around 700,000 new jobs," the draft reads. "This initiative will aim at ensuring that the performance of front-runners in sustainability becomes progressively the norm for all products placed on the EU market."

Other than facing regulation on product durability, resource efficiency and carbon footprint, companies will also be held more accountable when making environmental claims on their products, the policy paper suggests. The idea is to make producers more responsible for the "sustainability performance" of their products along the entire lifecycle.

"The commission will present a legislative proposal requiring companies to substantiate their environmental claims … as well as proposals to strengthen consumer protection against green washing and planned obsolesce practices," it reads.

To boost the uptake of more sustainable manufactured products, the commission will also propose "minimum mandatory green criteria" or "targets" for public procurement in sectoral legislation, according to the draft.

Trade also features as a channel to do that.

"To support a global move toward the circular economy, the commission will ensure that free trade agreements reflect circular economy objectives and promote regulatory cooperation and — where appropriate — alignment with EU norms and standards favoring circularity," the draft reads.

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