A new report analyzing all EU publications on the circular economy has revealed that recycling and plastic are the most frequently discussed strategies in the EU's efforts towards a circular economy. The report, titled "A Systematic Analysis of EU Publications on the Circular Economy", was conducted by the European Union's Publications Office and covers publications up until December 31, 2022.
According to the report, publications on the circular economy started to appear just before the release of the first Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015 and have been steadily growing in number since then, particularly towards the second Circular Economy Action Plan in 2020. The report also found that most of these publications came from a few Directorate Generals of the European Commission, with the European Environment Agency being the next most active publisher.
Despite the priority position of reducing and reusing in the EU waste hierarchy, the report found that recycling was the most frequently discussed circular economy strategy in these publications. Additionally, the report noted that plastic was the most discussed material category, despite there being other important categories such as biomass, non-metallic minerals, metals and alloys, critical materials, and fossil fuels.
The report also revealed that the rationales behind the need for circularity actions were frequently linked to "ecological issues and waste management" and "economic growth and innovation", while the discussion on "resource concerns and supply risk", "employment and job creation", and "climate change and emissions" was limited.
These findings suggest a need for greater emphasis on reducing and reusing strategies, as well as a more balanced approach to addressing different material categories in the circular economy. Furthermore, the report highlights the importance of considering a broader range of rationales and outcomes when developing circular economy policies and initiatives.
Overall, the report provides valuable insights into the EU's efforts towards a circular economy and can inform future research and policy decisions in this area.