Introducing more robust monitoring and targets to spur Europe’s move to a circular economy would help improve resource efficiency, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report.
The EEA report ‘Resource efficiency and the circular economy in Europe 2019 — even more from less’ gives an overview and assesses the results of a 2019 EEA survey involving 32 European countries from the EEA’s European Environmental Information and Observation Network (Eionet). It looks at European country policies and approaches to improve resource efficiency. The report notes that since 2016 there has been a noticeable shift in the focus of policies from improving resource efficiency to a broader circular economy perspective. Many aspects of the two overlap in policies, such as waste management and waste prevention, along with environmental and sustainable development strategies, innovation policies and economic programmes. The shift in focus is expected to consolidate even further as wider EU action is currently underway in this area, especially with the EU’s newly adopted Circular Economy Action Plan, which is one of the key parts of the European Green Deal.
Indicators, targets and monitoring
The report’s survey found that in past years there was a general lack of target setting across Europe, which is needed to improve resource efficiency and drive the circular economy. In their surveys, countries noted that adopting national targets is often politically difficult. The survey also found that universally accepted indicators, that would coherently address the different aspects of the circular economy, would help improve both the adoption and use of targets in this area as well as informing a more comprehensive monitoring system.
The report highlights the widely different approaches and levels of advancement among the countries surveyed.
While policies on resource efficiency, raw material supply and the circular economy have different focuses, the report notes that all three are strongly related and mutually supported. Resource efficiency and raw material supply addresses the links between nature and Europe’s socio-economic system, while the circular economy addresses the socio-economic system itself.
The report is based on the third survey the EEA has conducted since 2011 looking at national policy responses in Eionet member countries. While the scope of these surveys has evolved over the years along with the policy agenda, together they provide timely information on continuities, differences and new trends and what these mean for the development of policies on resource efficiency and the circular economy in Europe.
The report reflects information published by EEA in August 2019, via country profiles.