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The future belongs to circular economy

As you might have noticed this March, the European Parliament has accepted a new legislation aimed to eliminate single-use plastics. The directive should come into force in two years, but first it has to be ratified by the member states. Many controversies have been induced due to the ban of certain plastic products. What changes should it actually bring?

Mainly, it will bring us nearer to fulfil the 2015 EU action plan, which highlighted the topics of waste prevention (precycling) and circular economy for the first time. The motivation behind is the will to protect the environment and human health and to use natural resources in a sustainable way. According to the principles of circular economy, more energy should be gained from renewable recourses and we should support sharing, renting, reusing and effective recycling.

wind power plant on sunny day on a field

(Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash)

The transition to a circular economy should extend life cycle of the existing products and minimization of waste. The natural resources are limited and therefore we should treat the existing materials more responsibly. Also, the extraction and manufacturing of raw materials for new products has a negative impact on the environment. If we decrease those processes by e.g. prolonging product lifetime, the emissions can decrease to 2-4 % a year.

The action plan emphasises reusable packaging – for example a deposit system for plastic bottles. The member states will also have to tackle the ban of some single-use plastics, which already have a more sustainable alternative.  As for those plastic products that do not have a substitute yet, their consumption has to decrease until 2025. Significant restrictions will be applied on cigarette filters or beverage bottless (here you can find a more detailed overview).

Specific goals for waste reduction will be defined for every EU country. Each member state including the Czech Republic will have to formulate its own plan to fulfil the new legislation. The support of reusable and well recyclable products should be included in the plan.

Waste negatively affects our health both directly and indirectly. It's not only

the plastic litter in the oceans, but also on the landfills, in the woods or in public spaces. Precycling will positively affect our health, the environment and the economics (e.g. due to the decrease of clean-up costs.) Thanks to the circular economy, we will be also more self-sufficient and less dependent on imported materials.

(Title photo by Joel Fulgencio on Unsplash)

circular economy "butterfly" diagram by Ellen MacArthur Foundation

(Source: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy/concept/infographic)

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