Make it standardised to make it circular

The discussion on #CircularStandards is alive and APPLiA will continue to contribute to it.

If Circular Economy is still under construction, the tools to make it effective are in place and working already. Standardisation, the right word to say that products follow designed criteria, has been deeply addressed during the workshop organised on 29 October by CEN-CENELEC – “Value chains for circular economy: metal, wood, plastic and concrete”, gathering together experts from the whole value chain. 

Missing materials, along the value chain and across sectors, represent an ongoing challenge, preventing the smooth achievement of circularity and making the maximisation of material reuse one of the key steps to success. “The home appliance sector is already able to deliver up to 98% of the plastic contained in retired products to the recyclers” stated Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA’s Director-General, reporting on the data provided by ECODOM, the Italian leader in the management of waste of electrical and electronic equipment. “We aim at bringing that number to 100% to prove that circularity is not a dream. This is exactly why APPLiA is amongst the signatories of the Circular Plastics Alliance”, he continued. Making sure that recycled plastics are following quality standards is a guarantee that quality secondary raw materials are used for the production of long-lasting products.

Standardisation is instrumental to that dream, that can become a reality only through collaboration. All industrial sectors, EU policy makers and Members States play indeed a role in promoting alternative economic models, now that is clear that “the transition from linear to circular” is already happening since many years. The publication of ecodesign and energy labelling measures for several products is the most recent proof of what this means in practice, and leaves room for inspiration and further effort at the same time. The scope of standards is as ambitious as it has to tackle environmental and social emergencies, remarked Catherine Chevauchė, Global Key Account Manager at SUEZ, while highlighting the need for collective and unfragmented participation of all the involved actors.

#CircularStandards should become the most loyal friend of every product. Starting from the design, throughout the lifecycle, while being an example for new business models, they should follow materials up to the recycling phase. “Standards build trust”, Christoph Winterhalter, CEN’s Vice-President Policy stated while wrapping up the all-day discussions.

As all changes, this is one that impacts but also needs everyone on board, at every level. “For how much we standardise, we will not succeed in standardising consumer behavior. We know that ⅔ of WEEE remains undocumented, meaning that it does not reach material loops to be recycled. And here is where every person can do its contribution, by simply making sure to bring old appliances to collection points”, Paolo Falcioni concluded. The explanation of why we need to foster a Circular Culture where citizens, in the first place, are fundamental actors of a new, revised system.