Circular economy and recycling

Circular economy and recycling have become recurring key concepts in the EU policy instruments in the last decade. The EU has included them in its effort to transform the economy by reaching the sustainable development goals and industrial policy objectives. This means stimulating growth through innovation that is environmentally, socially and financially sustainable as well. To do that, the European Commission adopted in December 2015 an ambitious Circular Economy Package. It supports EU businesses and consumers to use resources in a sustainable way.

The aim is to extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 

(COM(2018) 32 final)

 Circular economy in Horizon 2020

The 2018-2020 Work Programme focuses efforts on fewer topics with bigger budgets, directly supporting the Commission's political priorities. The focus areas align R&I investments towards the climate change targets of the Paris Agreement and the UN's SDGs. The focus area on 'Connecting economic and environmental gains – the Circular Economy' (budget of €941 million) is in line with these targets. Through Horizon 2020, the Commission is funding several research projects. They will deliver – e.g. - better data to complement the official statistics.

The raw materials part of the Societal Challenge 5 'Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials' will address a number of challenges. H2020 is also going to support projects revolving around 'Sustainable solutions for bio-based plastics on land and sea'. Topic included in the Societal Challenge 2.

New solutions for the conversion of captured CO2 to useful products will be the expected impact of other projects. The call regards the topic 'Conversion of captured CO2' (SC3).

These examples highlight how the Commission has conceived the role of the EU Research and Innovation programme. It should clear the path towards a circular economy in the Union.