In order to promote the transition to the circular economy, countries around the world have commenced setting national plans and goals and included them in the framework of policies, programs and regulations.
On 2015, the EU adopted the Action Plan for Circular Economy, aimed to promote competitiveness and sustainable economic growth, and to develop the circularity of the product lifecycle.
The Action Plan is accompanied by over 10 billion € in funding, as confirmed by the Commission for 2016-2020.
The EU Circular Economy package derived from the Action plan, consists of several key initiatives including a monitoring framework on progress towards a circular economy based on key indicators, such as:
- Self-sufficiency for raw materials
- Green public procurement
- Waste generation
- Food waste
- Overall recycling rates
- Recycling rates for specific waste streams
- Contribution of recycled materials to raw materials demand
- Trade in recyclable raw materials
- Private investments, jobs and gross value added
In 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan. The report presents the main achievements to date under the Action Plan and sketches out future challenges for shaping the economy and paving the way towards a climate-neutral, circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimized.
The member states are forming policies and legislating regulations to implement the transition locally, on national levels. They set our measures to be taken and targets to be met and promote cooperation with other member States.
- The Netherlands had adopted a plan for a Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050:
The circular economy plan aims to deal with resources in a smarter way and to maximize the reuse of raw materials. To accelerate the transition to a circular economy, the Dutch government plans to draw up “transition agendas” in which the five following chains and sectors have the highest priority: biomass and food, plastics, manufacturing, construction, and consumer goods. The government will support these priority chains and sectors so that by 2050 they will only be using sustainably produced, renewable or generally available raw materials, and will be generating as little residual waste as possible. in addition, Smart return and collection systems will be set up for products that reach the end of their useful life.
- France has a roadmap for the Circular Economy including 50 measures for a 100% circular economy:
The transition towards a circular economy is a key project of the ecological and social transition in France that aims to move away from the throw-away society. France “Circular Economy Roadmap” charts a path for rapid progress towards the ambitious goals of the Climate Plan in matters relating to the circular economy. The goals, among others, are to Reduce natural resource use related to French consumption: 30% reduction in resource consumption in relation to GDP between 2010 and 2030; 50% reduction in the amount of non-hazardous waste landfilled by 2025, compared to 2010; Aim towards 100% of plastics recycled by 2025; Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: avoiding the emission of 8 million additional tones of CO2 each year thanks to plastic recycling; and creating up to 300,000 additional jobs, including in new professions.
- Slovenia has a roadmap towards the Circular Economy in Slovenia:
Its primary objective is to pave the transition from a linear to a circular economy in Slovenia through an inclusive multi-stakeholder process. It has been designed with the aim of setting guidelines for Slovenia to allow for a controlled and efficient systemic transition into a Circular Economy. The goals of the roadmap are to outline the potential steps that would establish Slovenia as the leader of the transition into the Circular Economy in Central and Eastern Europe; Involve stakeholders in identifying and connecting circular practices; create recommendations for the Government of Slovenia to facilitate a more efficient transition to the Circular Economy; and identify circular opportunities for the strengthening of international economic competitiveness and quality of life for all.
- The transition to the Circular Economy in the US, is principally driven by the private sector. As no central circular economy policy has been designated to promote the change, initiatives by stakeholders in the private sector in an array of industries have already begun the transition to a circular economy. In addition, organizations in the US engaged in circular economy solutions promote circular economy principles, even if they are specifically not described in those terms.
- In July 2018, a revised legislative framework on waste entered into force in the EU. The framework sets goals for reduction of waste, setting clear targets for waste recycling and establishing an ambitious long-term path leading towards waste prevention and recycling.
- In January 2018, the EU adopted ‘European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’, aiming to transform the way plastic is produced, used and recycled in the EU. This Strategy will support more sustainable and safer consumption and production patterns for plastics. The EU Strategy for Plastics initiated the Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment which entered into force in 2019.
- Some states in the US, have not waited for a unified policy to be set, and have started to promote their own legislation in these matters. In California state legislators are promoting the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which aims to ensure California is at the forefront of reducing plastic packaging and products pollution. In present form, this proposed legislation would require single-use plastic packaging and products that are sold, imported or distributed in California to be reduced or recycled by 75% by 2030; require all such packaging and products to be recyclable or compostable after 2030; and develop incentives and policies to encourage in-state manufacturing using recycled material generated in California. The act did not pass in September 2019 as the legislative session ended, but is expected to be reconsidered when the state legislature reconvenes. Another bill that came in force in California in September 2019 requires beverage containers to contain no less than 10% postconsumer recycled plastic content by 2021, 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
- The Government of Israel announced its intention to have a National Circular Economy Plan. This plan aims to encourage Israeli industry towards more efficient use of resources and to improve industry competitiveness to level, consistent with leading global industries.
- A leading Israeli environmental NGO is currently working on a bill to promote processes to reduce the effects of plastic in Israel. The bill is expected to promote the following actions: national plastic pollution prevention strategy; allocating resources to develop and access alternative products; changing production patterns; setting prohibition on using harmful technologies.
After setting international and national plans and programs that aim to accelerate the transition toward circular economy, national and local governments are expected to focus on regulations that translate policies and goals into measures and enforcement tools for achieving them.
Currently, laws and regulations address mainly the reduction and prevention of the impact of the economy and industries (emissions, wastes and hazards) on the environmental, rather than accelerating the transition to circular economy by focusing on utilization of raw materials and products. An innovative legal framework is required to boost innovation and foster investments in the new world of the circular economy.