Defra reveals UK’s response to EU circular economy consultation

Defra has published the UK Government's response to the EU's public circular economy consultation, including calls for more cross-sector collaboration and voluntary - rather than prescriptive - measures.

The response, published this week, was submitted to the EU in October. Responses to the EU’s consultation will form the basis of the European Commission’s long-awaited Circular Economy package, due to be officially published on 2 December 2015.

From the outset, the Government called for a Member States to be given some autonomy in the implementation of the package, saying: “We endorse the use of voluntary measures, which have been successful in the UK, and oppose prescriptive approaches that do not allow Member States scope to take account of their national circumstances.”

The document also called for “consistent application of standard” and a “clear direction of travel” in order to build investor confidence.


Importantly, the UK called for the establishment of EU-wide collaborative networks in order to promote ‘industrial symbiosis’. The response said: “An industrial symbiosis methodology has been pioneered in the UK and we would be happy to share our experiences”

“The network should engage traditionally separate industries and other organizations to foster innovative strategies for more sustainable resource use.

“Through the network, business opportunities would be identified leading to mutually advantageous transactions for innovative sourcing of required inputs and value added destinations for non-product outputs.

“Organisations would also benefit from being exposed to best practice and knowledge transfer, resulting in cultural and process changes.”

Other recommendations included a review of the use of chemicals in supporting a more circular economy and using public procurement to set an example for the private sector.

Pulling power

Earlier this week, a group of six UK green trade bodies authored a joint letter to EU Commission vice president Frans Timmermans, calling for ‘pull measures’ be included in the new circular economy package.

The package is expected to contain a number of ‘push’ levers such as recycling and landfill diversion targets, but the group said that market forces alone would not drive the necessary change

Instead they called for significant market intervention and a long-term regulatory framework to help kickstart the transition to a circular economy. 

Circular economy package letter to Frans Timmermans

WRAP and the Green Alliance are among the other influention organisations that have published their responses to the EU consultation.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has claimed that a pan-European transition to the circular economy could be worth €1.8trn a year.

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