MEUSAC Core Group on the Circular Economy

The EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, today met the MEUSAC Core Group to discuss ongoing initiatives of the European Commission in relation to the Circular Economy Action Plan; with particular focus on the recently adopted Plastics Strategy and waste management in particular. The meeting was chaired by Dr Vanni Xuereb, Head of MEUSAC.

In his introductory remarks, the Commissioner stated that in a Circular Economy, it is pertinent that the value of products and materials are maintained for as long as possible while waste and resource use are minimised.

“When a product reaches the end of its life, it should be used again to create further value to help bring economic benefits, contributing to competitiveness. It is also pertinent that harmful substances are eliminated in products since, if not, the substances will continue to be recycled in other products,” Commissioner Vella said.

For this to happen, we need to be innovative in product designs, avoiding mixed materials such as metal and plastic which make it harder for a product to be recycled as a result.

He highlighted that the Circular Economy generated four million jobs and injected between €15 and €20 million into the European economy in 2014.

The Commissioner also referred to the fact that the Circular Economy Action Plan has had a wide-ranging number of actions some of which tackled waste management, and which have notably materialised in the most recently adopted Waste Package. In this regard, the Commissioner referred to the fact that the recycling of waste in Malta is much lower when compared to other Member States and that Malta needed to do more whilst acknowledging the challenges Malta faces in terms of waste generation and waste management.

Mr Vella also spoke about the ‘Our Ocean’ conference held in Malta in October 2017 during which some €7.3 billion worth of commitments towards investment in innovative solutions to counter the widespread deterioration of our marine environments were made, more than the total of what was collected (€6.5 billion) in the three conferences preceding that held in Malta.

Referring to the Circular Economy Action Plan, Commissioner Vella highlighted that 44 out of the 54 measures foreseen in the Plan have already been implemented.

He also referred to the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy aimed at enhancing economies of scale while also restricting micro-plastics in products and reducing single-use plastic.

Following his introductory remarks, the Commissioner engaged in a discussion with members of the Core Group. The discussion revolved around the extended producer responsibility tied to the Circular Economy, measures for SMEs to use funds to encourage them to participate further in the Circular Economy, fiscal measures tied to the plastics strategy, the need to change the mindset when it comes to recycling by increasing awareness and engaging in education campaigns.

The Core Group brings together senior government officials and representatives of the Constituted Bodies, civil society, the national and European parliaments and the EU advisory bodies to discuss EU matters having national implications.

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