Inspiration for a greener tanning industry from the Arzignano tanning district.

UE, an action plan towards a circular economy

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by Chiara Manoli, ILSA

Last 2 December 2015, the European Commission adopted a package of measures on the circular economy entitled: “The missing link – An action plan for the circular economy”. The Commission’s aim is to help European companies and consumers to make the transition to a more circular and strong economy and create the basis for that ‘ “missing link” in the products life cycle, benefiting both the environment and the economy. It will draw so the maximum value and the maximum use of raw materials, products and waste, promoting energy savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission’s proposals, which should be implemented between 2015 and 2019, cover the whole life cycle and then do not focus only on the end of life phase. The package is in fact structured by chapters and covers the following areas: production, stage of consumption, waste management, secondary raw materials market, priority sectors (plastic, food waste, critical raw materials, construction and demolition waste, biomass and  “bio “products), innovation and investment, progress monitoring.

Stimulate the market for secondary raw materials: the revision of the European Regulation on fertilizers.

Inside the actions package, are those for the market for secondary raw materials, with the goal of turning waste into resources. By reintroducing secondary raw materials in fact, their supply becomes more secure, and their exchange and transport can be done in the same way for the raw materials from traditional mineral resources. Among these secondary raw materials are the nutrients that are also in large quantities in organic biomass, and which might  be reintroduced into the environment as fertilizer. Sustainable use of these organic fertilizers reduces the use of mineral fertilizers, whose production has a negative impact and may depend on imported raw materials, sometimes depleting resources (eg phosphate rock). However, so far free movement of organic-based fertilizers in Europe has been hampered by excessive heterogeneity of national regulations which discipline this area, unlike the mineral fertilizers that have a European legislation. In this regard the Commission a few months ago published a draft of the new European Regulation on fertilizers, which has been studying for several years and that, once entered into force, will regulate the entire manufacturing sector, from mineral to organic ones and organ -mineral fertilizers, through bio-stimulants, growing media, nutrients…

The revision of this European Regulation was included among the strategies  of the Circular Economy: thanks to the creation of this new regulatory framework, the organic-based fertilizers, which represent a virtuous way to reuse in agriculture by-products still rich of organic source, will finally circulate freely within the Community, helping to “close the circle”, with significant benefits in the areas of agriculture, for the environment and the economy.

For more information:

*Comunicazione della Commissione al Parlamento Europeo, al Consiglio, al Comitato economico e sociale europeo e al Comitato delle regioni “VERSO UN’ECONOMIA CIRCOLARE: PROGRAMMA PER UN’EUROPA A ZERO RIFIUTI”, COM(2014) 398/finale/2, Bruxelles 25.9.2014

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