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EU Recyclers' Top 4 priorities for 2024 - 2029

15 January 2024

EuRIC’s priorities for the period 2024-2029 set out a strategic direction for the European recycling industry.

A roadmap for the industry, outlining key goals and strategies to promote sustainable and circular practices within the EU.

 

BASELINE

EuRIC prioritises integrating recycling into Europe’s broader industrial and environmental agenda, specifically linking circular economy objectives with climate policies. It calls for enhancing the global competitiveness of the European recycling sector, advocating for balanced trade policies and the promotion of circular materials.

It also underscores the importance of advancing eco-design and incentivising the use of recycled materials to align with the European Green Deal’s objectives. Lastly, it highlights the need for legislative reforms to facilitate circular value chains, including the expedited adoption of EU-wide End-of-Waste criteria.

Switching towards a circular and climate neutral economy must remain more than ever a priority. The Earth Overshoot Day, marking the date when humanity has used more natural resources than the Earth can generate in a year, was reached on 2 August 2023. This is months earlier than the first Overshoot Day on 25 December 1971. Over the last 5 years, the EU has made significant progress by progressively including recycled content targets in its legislative framework to pull the demand for circular materials. Such measures are key for addressing market failures and leveling the playing field with extracted raw materials, which are still prevalent in most value chains. In addition, pull measures incentivise not only recycling but the entire value chain towards adopting circular business models.

Yet, the scope and magnitude of such instruments remain too limited to drastically increase the circular materials use rate: currently, only 11.5% of materials used by the European industry comes from recycling (EUROSTAT). As a result, the EU remains heavily dependent on imports of hydrocarbons (incl. in the form of finished products, such as plastics or synthetics textiles) and extracted raw materials. This leaves the EU constantly exposed to the geopolitical vagaries of the energy market, leaving the EU vulnerable to the geopolitical whims of the energy market. Utilising recycled content could disrupt this dynamic and significantly restabilise long-term consumer prices. To initiate the right dynamic, a mix of ambitious measures combined with a consistent industrial policy is absolutely necessary to boost recycling alongside the re-use of end-of-life products.

This is crucial to ensure that the European Union continues to lead in the race towards a low-carbon and circular economy while retaining a competitive industrial framework, vital for its welfare state and thus, its socio-political stability. The COVID pandemic combined with the subsequent energy crisis have demonstrated the EU’s reliance on a variety of goods and services not manufactured within the EU. Worse, since the end of the pandemic, the US, EU’s closest economic ally and competitor has laid down a set of policies best embodied by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), resulting in a GDP growth rate twice than of the EU’s. Therefore, EuRIC supports a Green Industrial Deal 2.0 that will rely on economic incentives (market-based, tax-based, policy-based) to drive the much-needed investments required to achieve the EU’s twin transition and improve the consistency between various EU legislations in the fields of resource-efficiency, climate and chemicals.