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How new policies worldwide advance the Circular Economy

The growing importance of the circular economy and circular business models manifests itself in policies and regulations designed to advance the adoption of circular economy. The European Commission’s new Circular Economy Action Plan forms a main pillar of the Green Deal, Europe’s new agenda for a climate-neutral, resource-efficient economy.

More power for the ECHA – The EU Chemicals strategy

The EU Chemicals strategy for sustainability is a vital element in Europe’s transition to a circular economy with its strong focus on the avoidance of hazardous substances, requiring actions already in the design phase of a product. As part of this strategy, the European Chemicals Agency ECHA is to be given new power to help protect people and the environment from harmful substances and aid the search for safe and sustainable alternatives, e.g., in batteries.

The European Commission’s New Consumer Agenda also ties in with the Circular Economy Action Plan – aiming to achieve better and more substantial information via a Digital Product Passport on product sustainability to empower consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

New Policies and Regulations worldwide – what’s going on outside the EU

While the European Union is leading the way when it comes to circular economy policy and adoption, the Biden Administration has also called for stronger mining rules and minerals recycling. An excerpt from the White House 100-Day Reviews under Executive Order 14017 states that ‘‘recycling offers many benefits to critical materials sustainability. By developing a circular economy for advanced battery materials, the United States can capture this material back into the economy and reduce the need for virgin extraction while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.’’

Many other countries have recently published circular economy goals and targets and are in the process of drafting and implementing policies and regulations. Examples include the Japan Circular Economy Vision 2020, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan for Circular Economy Development, the Australian Parliament’s inquiry and report ‘‘From Rubbish to Resources: Building a Circular Economy’’, and the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB), led by the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, and State, which, among other things, aims to create a domestic circular economy for batteries in the United States.

Angelika Steinbrecher

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