The European Union wants product designers, manufacturers and consumers to move towards a circular economy, and is proposing new rules to trigger that transition
A revolution in the way many consumer products are designed, produced and used could be on the horizon, if the European Union delivers on a series of proposals outlined at the start of December.
The proposals were part of a wide-ranging EU strategy on the circular economy. To go circular, the strategy says, products must be designed to last longer before being binned by consumers. Failing that, products should be more easily repairable and recyclable, so they can be made into new products once their useful lives are over.
The strategy should reduce waste volumes, especially for tricky-to-handle products, such as consumer electronics containing toxic chemicals. It should also make it easier for EU countries to meet their household waste recycling targets, which under the strategy would rise to 65% by 2030. And more recovery of resources, such as precious metals from smartphones, will reduce the EU's reliance on often unstable countries for raw materials.
Impacts on companies
The first main way in which the strategy could affect companies will be through the setting of mandatory ecodesign requirements that products must meet to be sold in the EU. There is already an EU Ecodesign Directive, under which the bloc's member states agree product...