EU circular economy package can cut unemployment and lower household bills

Wednesday 19 August 2015
Jonny Hazell Jonny HazellSenior policy adviser020 7630 4529jhazell@green-alliance.org.uk
A new infographic[1] by think tank Green Alliance[2] demonstrates how the EU’s circular economy package can deliver powerful social benefits, particularly net jobs in areas of high unemployment and meeting household demand for longer-lasting, better made products. Drawing on lessons from the UK, it shows that the package must include measures to promote reuse and repair to realise these benefits, especially eco-design and producer responsibility requirements that encourage reuse and demand for recycled materials. 

Research on the UK has shown that a more circular economy can address labour market problems that are common to many European countries. In particular, it can bring down unemployment in regions where it is especially high, with 54,000 net jobs estimated for the UK, and provide opportunities at all skill levels[3]. But realising these employment benefits depends on much higher levels of reuse and repair, as these are the most valuable economic activities within a circular economy. 

Through the circular economy package, the EU can help businesses to capture this value and develop these jobs by ensuring that products are designed with reuse and repair in mind. The package should also help develop markets for secondary products and materials by ensuring producer responsibility schemes encourage reuse and use of recycled materials. A package that delivers these outcomes wouldn’t just boost employment, it would also provide households with the quality products they want and help Europe to stay competitive in a world of rising demand for materials.

Jonny Hazell, senior policy advisor, said: 

“As the world’s largest single market, Europe is in a unique position to secure the supply of products that are fit for the circular economy. A circular economy package that delivers products that are long-lasting, easy to repair and ultimately recycle will prove the foundation of a harmonised market in circular economy goods and services. Such a market would generate employment all round the EU and improve the competitiveness of European businesses. As importantly, it will deliver savings for households and reduce the global impact of European consumption.”

Ends

Contact
Jonny Hazell, 020 7630 4529, jhazell@green-alliance.org.uk for interview and more information about the infographic’s recommendations.

Notes

[1]   The social benefits of a circular economy: lessons from the UK is attached to this news release and will be available on the Green Alliance website from Wednesday 19 August via  http://green-alliance.org.uk/social_benefits_of_a_circular_economy

[2] Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. Founded in 1979 “to inject an environmental perspective into the political life of Britain” we have been inspiring and influencing change for over 35 years. www.green-alliance.org.uk

[3] Employment and the circular economy: job creation in a more resource efficient Britain by Julian Morgan and Peter Mitchell, January 2015, Green Alliance/WRAP