On 2 December 2015 the European Commission adopted its Circular Economy Package. It includes an EU Action Plan for the circular economy as well as revised legislative proposals on waste. The Action Plan establishes a programme of action, with measures covering the whole cycle from production and consumption to waste management as well as the market for secondary raw materials.
The goal of the proposed actions is to contribute to "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bringing benefits for both the environment and the economy. The Action Plan proposes actions related to production, consumption, waste management, secondary raw materials and for 6 priority areas, of which one is biomass and bio-based products.
Linking the bioeconomy and the circular economy
The priority area of bio-based products acknowledges the possibility of the bioeconomy to replace fossil-based products and to contribute to the circular economy, hence making the important link between these two concepts. CEPF welcomes this recognition and urges the Commission to follow-up the proposed action to assess the contribution of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy to the circular economy and reviewing the Strategy in that context in the course of 2016.
Promoting cascading use
One of the proposed actions for biomass and bio-based products is the promotion of cascading use. The text says that cascading use, “with several reuse and recycling cycles, should be encouraged where appropriate” and mentions wood in this context specifically. “National measures such as extended producer responsibility schemes for furniture or wood packaging, or separate collection of wood can have a positive impact. The Commission will work on identifying and sharing best practices in this sector and promote innovation; the revised legislative proposals on waste also include a mandatory EU-level target on recycling wood packaging waste.”
CEPF welcomes all kinds of measures towards increased resource efficiency, such as the recycling of waste wood or further innovation and investments towards a bio-based economy. However, CEPF remains clearly critical towards the concept of cascading use, if meant to be a top-down concept defining the use and value of wood and wood-based products in a hierarchical manner. Determining “low-value” or “appropriate” use of wood at EU level would be against the open market principle and could lead to significant negative impacts on the whole forest- and forest-based sector, including its competitiveness and the further development of rural areas.
For further details on CEPF position on the cascading use principle, please see joint statement below.