What changes worldwide could have the biggest impact on the circular economy? Read our selection for you for April 2022.


United Nations to end plastic pollution

5 April 2022


The United Nations has taken a “historic” step to combat global plastic pollution. At the Environment Assembly (UNEA) on 2 March, 175 countries signed a resolution to start negotiations for a legally binding agreement to be presented by the end of 2024.


The agreement is supposed to cover the full life cycle of plastic, including production, use, disposal and reuse, and includes measures such as maximum limits for plastic waste on land and in the sea. It also aims to advance the development of recyclable and reusable materials through improved international cooperation on research and technology.


An intergovernmental negotiating committee has been established to draft the agreement. In the meantime, ongoing work by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) continues. As a result, willing partners, whether governmental or private, will continue to be supported in phasing out single-use plastics and transitioning towards a circular economy.


New study proposes EPR for textiles


A new study by consultancy Eunomia, commissioned by the Changing Markets Foundations and the European Environmental Bureau, examines the potential of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in establishing a circular economy in textiles. It concludes that this instrument plays an important role in implementing the ‘polluter pays’ principle and should be an essential part of the European Union’s new textile strategy (see article in the Environmental Compliance Update for more information).


The study suggests that the waste management costs for textiles should be borne by producers and not by municipalities. The fact that a part of these costs would be passed on to the customer through the product price would be an opportunity rather than a threat to address one of the key problems: excessive consumption. The biggest consumers, and thus also waste producers, would receive an economic incentive to change or optimise their textile consumption.


Other proposed measures aim to reduce the purchase of new textiles. Eco-design should result in longer lifetimes and improved resilience of products. Finally, the authors call for a possibility to repair textiles and to ban the use of substances of very high concern in textiles.


Regarding EPR, the European Union is called upon to draw up a catalogue of definitions to ensure effective implementation: definitions such as which manufacturers are subject to EPR and when is a textile defined as waste need to be established. A reporting obligation and the modulation of fees are also required.