circular economy. According to the EU
institution, the upcoming package will take a
coherent approach that fully reflects
interactions and interdependence along the
value chain. It will also comprise a revised
legislative proposal on waste and a
communication setting out an action plan on
the circular economy. Portal asked Holemans
for his thoughts on the EU institution’s move to
implement a replacement package.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said, “because we
are losing valuable time and there were some
good concepts on the table. We have very
important climate change negotiations in Paris
in December; we cannot say that we will
develop a new package and, within a few years,
develop new ideas about a circular economy –
we have to implement them today.
“The same thinking can be applied for
directives on Nature conservation. If you look at
the report that was issued by the European
Environmental Agency, we are doing very badly.
One-third of our protected habitats are
deteriorating; that’s a clear message that we
have to change policy and make directives even
stronger. This is important: we have to protect
more Nature. Yet, at the same time, this cannot
serve as an alibi for doing what we want with
the rest of the environment.”
Holemans then moved to discuss two further
important aspects to realising a circular economy
– connecting efficiency with sufficiency and
sharing things, two concepts that are being led
by the citizen.
“The circular economy is also based on another
premise which I call the ‘economy of sufficiency’.
If you always want to be more efficient and your
car is becoming more efficient, yet you drive
more kilometres, or if we insulate our houses and
increase efficiency, but then with the money we
save we fly off on holiday, the burden on the
planet gets even bigger.
“We have to introduce the concept of
sufficiency, which is now beginning to happen.
This ‘sharing economy’ was not introduced by
policy makers or regulations; it was introduced
by citizens being fed up with always having to
buy more products only to produce more waste.
Their response was: it can’t go on like this, andwww.horizon2020projects.com
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you could have a better life with less materialism if you share things. And
it works: if you look at cities in Europe, car sharing schemes are growing
very fast and the impact is enormous – one shared car can replace 11
“In certain cities, we have so-called ‘libraries of equipment’. This is also
a very important route to having a vital economy – it’s more of a service
economy where, for example, you don’t buy a car but instead use the
mobility services that are offered, or, rather than buying garden equipment
when you need it, you can use a service to borrow your required
implements. These are two very important building blocks for a new
economy, allowing a good life whilst staying inside planetary boundaries.
“The sufficiency race is in our so-called ‘sustainable box’. Efficiency
without sufficiency is in our ‘unsustainable box’: people will just drive
consumption up to a higher level.”
Connected with the environment
Holemans then provided his thoughts on the extent to which citizens are
reacting to the need to reduce their impact on the environment, and the
multitude of influences that are affecting society.
“We can observe two currents in the European countries,” he said. “We
have a dominant current, the one we hear every day through the media,
in movies and on television programmes. It’s about economic growth
and buying more products, and it’s full of advertising.
“Yet there is also a second current, a smaller but growing one where
citizens, awoken by the financial crisis, have realised that whilst they
have worked hard and saved money, within five years something could
happen with the euro or another oil crisis could come, and as such the
future isn’t guaranteed and we have to take it into our own hands.
“These people aren’t waiting anymore for the big narrative or big ideology
but instead, in their neighbourhood and city, are going to set up collective
practices and develop so-called ‘new circles of certainty’. There’s a
lot of uncertainty in the world, and this is building a new environment.
In March, Karmenu
Vella announced that
present a new
proposal on the