Transition from waste management to circular economy the European Union roadmap

TitleTransition from waste management to circular economy the European Union roadmap
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsChioatto E, Sospiro P
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
Date PublishedJan

In the last twenty years, the European Union (EU) has enhanced Waste Management (WM) strategies toward Circular Economy (CE). Starting from the previous analysis carried out by Fabrizi and Sospiro (Waste Management in Europe A Comparative Study of the main EU countries Methodology and Evaluation of Local Waste Management System, Lambert Publisher, Saarb{u}cken, Germany, 2017), this article analyses firstly EU Member States (MSs) Roadmap toward Sustainable Waste Management (SWM) and secondly to CE. The research relied on Kirchherr et al. (Kirchherr in Ecological Economics 150264–272, 2018) study which identified four barriers to CE (cultural, regulatory, market failure, and technological). The regulatory framework has been analysed. Four case studies (France, FR, Germany, DE, Italy, IT, the Netherlands, NL) have been selected to investigate criteria, methodologies, policies, implementation and outcomes on SWM at national level. In addition, given MSs coordination at EU level the research aimed at analysing whether is there any convergence in terms of policies and achievements. The study considered recent findings on CE, Eurostat data, and Eurostat Circular Material Use (CMU) indicator. The analysis revealed SWM positive results, which seem to confirm a certain degree of convergence between EU-MSs that consists in a positive cascade mechanism from advanced toward less advanced MSs. In spite of this, EU countries need a further step in order to close materials' loops. Larger quantity of Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs) should return to manufacture, and this requires stronger intervention that goes beyond the waste sector. In light of this, the EU Commission recently entrusted the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to assess and compare the environmental impacts of alternative feedstock for plastic products. This reveals EU attempt to re-balance the intervention on CE, by striving new products' design approaches.