2 October, 2020

Circular Economy Package

The Circular Economy Package (CEP) has finally been transposed into UK law via The Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 that came into force on the 1 October 2020.

Rob Bresler
Written by Rob Bresler

There hasn’t been a huge ‘fanfare’ about it, but we feel this milestone should be celebrated, particularly as it was nearly an opportunity missed through continued delays from the negotiating down of key recycling targets and Brexit.

The lack of fanfare can mostly be put down to the fact the many of the key deliverables of the CEP are spread across a number of smaller amendments to various pieces of existing legislation and Directives. Many of the Circular Economy aspirations have also been incorporated into the Resource and Waste Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan.

I appreciate this legal amendment may not be the most exciting subject for most, and explaining the finer details of the Waste Framework Directive isn’t for everyone (but further details and references can be found below), however its implications are wide reaching and will ultimately impact all businesses and consumers.

If implemented correctly, the CEP should result in more robust and readily recyclable products coming to the market. The new regulations explicitly require us to ‘encourage the design, manufacturing and use of products that are resource-efficient, durable (including in terms of life span and absence of planned obsolescence), reparable, reusable and upgradable’.

This will have some significant implications to a wide variety of manufactures when it comes to how and where their products are ultimately repaired or dismantled at their end-of-life.

To ensure safe and certifiable repairs are undertaken, third party spare part manufactures and repair shops will need instruction manuals, technical specifications and access to associated supporting ‘upgrade’ software. Where companies aren’t prepared or willing to relinquish their tightly held intellectual property rights they’ll need to provide or support their own take-back and repair infrastructure. Moves in this direction will inevitably result in more ‘product-as-a-service’ items coming onto the market.

With regards to the shorter term implication of the adoption of the CEP, these can be found through the following changes to the Waste Framework Directive.

For those of you that are interested in more detail, take a look at the CEP policy statement which was released on 30 July 2020.

Waste Framework Directive (WFD) amendment (key stats)

  • It will enforce that any waste separately collected for preparation for re-use or recycling must not be subsequently sent for incineration. (This also applies to separately collected materials going to landfill under the Landfill Directive).
  • The required removal of hazardous substances or components from hazardous waste to facilitate their re-use, recycling or recovery.
  • Promotion of the re-use and repair activities.
  • Increased recycling targets, with a goal of 65% recycling by 2035 (this was watered down from a 70% target).

Companies, products and services that begin to adopt and adapt to these changes will be the ones that will have the edge on their competition.

It’s our belief that the companies that are making the effort to understand their impacts throughout their supply and value chain will be the most prepared to adopt and adapt to these changes. Not only will these companies most likely to be the most sustainable, but they’ll have the edge on the competition and be around for the long term.

We are glad to have them as customers…