Many materials used by EU industry come from secondary or recycled sources. Producing goods using recycled materials is often much less energy intensive than manufacturing goods from virgin materials. Recycling can thus reduce production costs and carbon emissions. Even though it cannot meet the EU industry's entire demand for raw materials, recycling has a great potential to improve Europe's resource efficiency. Using lower quantities of materials in product design can also play a part in improving access to raw materials in Europe.
What the Commission does
In the Raw Materials Initiative Communication published on 2 February 2011, the Commission proposed measures to improve how recycling markets work through:
- development of best practices in collection and treatment of waste;
- improving the availability of statistics on waste and materials flows - see the knowledge base;
- reviewing EU waste and eco-design legislation;
- supporting research and innovation;
- promoting economic incentives for reuse and recycling.
Trade in waste
The Raw Materials Initiative also sets out actions to improve the enforcement of EU rules on how waste may be traded. In particular, this strategy aims to tackle illegal shipments of waste from Europe to non-OECD countries where the treatment of waste often results in damage to the environment and a permanent loss of material.
A study (5 MB) examining the feasibility of a certification scheme for recycling facilities was published in May 2013 and a public consultation was open from 10.12.2013 to 24.03.2014.
- Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative on Resource Efficiency;
- Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (2011);
- Circular Economy Package (2014);
- European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials.