Estonia supports most of the measures in the Circular Economy Package of the European Commission, which aim to promote the growth of competitive and sustainable economy in the European Union by increasing more effective and sustainable implementation of resources within the entire product value chain.
“Sustainable consumption, production, and innovation are the keywords in developing new business models and markets,” emphasised Marko Pomerants, the Minister of the Environment, and added that the prevention of waste generation and extended use of waste as a raw material will substantially decrease the environmental load.
In terms of circular economy, one of the most relevant measures in the package is the amendment of the Ecodesign Directive. The objective of implementing additional requirements to decrease environmental impact is to enhance the reparability, durability, and recyclability of products. The decisions that determine the entire life-cycle of a product – which material to use, where to get it, which resources are required for the processing, and what kind of waste results from the process – are made namely in the designing stage. “It is in every sense reasonable to know before starting to prepare something what will come of it after the end of its life-cycle,” said Pomerants.
With the purpose of using environment-friendly products and services, Estonia is also supporting more extensive implementation of sustainable public procurements. “The example and initiative of the public sector is definitely decisive here,” added the Minister of the Environment.
The long-term aims of the package concerning waste are primarily related to the implementation of target figures. The legally binding targets provided in the EU waste legislation have been the main tool in improving the practices of waste handling, increasing recycling, limiting the amount of waste discharged to landfills, and stimulating the change in consumer behaviour.
In 2025, a minimum of 60% of domestic waste will have to be prepared and recycled for reuse. The level of recycling in 2014 was 35%; therefore, Estonia has to make an effort to achieve the goal. New target figures will be set for packaging waste as well. However, there are also aims that Estonia has already achieved. Namely, as of 2030, the amount of domestic waste to be discharged to landfills cannot exceed 10% of waste generation. As at 2014, only 6.5% of waste is landfilled in Estonia.
“Fulfilling the set objective implies everybody’s contribution. So it depends on the companies what the product design will look like or how waste is handled, more extensive implementation of green public procurements decreases the ecological footprint of the public sector, and the reasonable and conscious behaviour of individuals reduces needless consumption and waste generation,” said Pomerants.
The European Commission adopted this new package on 2 December 2015. The aim of the package is to find solutions to issues related to economy and environment by means of increasing the efficiency of resource exploitation, incorporation, and innovation of the entire value chain, hence providing the possibility to develop new markets and business models.