EEA: state and outlook 2024

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European Union circular economy policies have been reinforced over recent years, but they still need to become more binding and target oriented in order to accelerate the uptake of a more regenerative economy in Europe. This means moving beyond the current strong focus on waste to address resource use more directly. The benefits behind the potential setting of future targets on resource use or material footprintand possible avenues to speed up the transition to a more circular model are explained in the EEA report “Accelerating circular economy in Europe — state and outlook 2024”.

The report offers a comprehensive analysis of the state of play of the transition to a more circular economy in Europe and the strong policy push we have seen in recent times, together with options and prospects to further accelerate it.

Overall key messages:

• considering the inherent impact of resource extraction and processing, and the impossibility of 100% circularity, it is crucial to prioritise the reduction of resource use and move towards a less material-intensive European economy

• maximising the utility of existing products requires significantly more intensity of use per product and much longer product lifetimes

• large-scale success of a circular economy relies heavily on returning substantial quantities of high-quality secondary raw materials to productive use

• Europe alone cannot curb unsustainable resource use at planetary scale, therefore, a robust global governance framework on resource use and circular economy will be essential.