The Circular Economy

The Circular Economy and EU Circular Economy Package – Find out more.

What is a Circular Economy?

A circular economy is where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible, and the generation of waste is minimised.  It also embraces the concept of waste as a resource and secondary raw material, to be reused and recycled in a more sustainable manner, in the manufacture of new products.

It is a shift away from the linear model ‘take, make and waste’ which relies on a steady supply of natural resources to create products and packaging. The EU has produced a short video explaining the concept.

Recycling is a critical component of a circular economy.  An effective recycling strategy relies on the cooperation of many stakeholders to make it work, with responsibility for its success shared across regulators, government, business and consumers.

What is the EU Circular Economy Package (CEP)?

In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious new Circular Economy Package. The following year, negotiation of both the legislative proposals and the proposed Action Plan took place with the Member States and the European Parliament. The results of this process can be found in ‘Closing the Loop’ An EU action plan for the Circular Economy.

The key aims of the CEP are to:

  • reduce waste and protect the environment;
  • boost global competitiveness and foster sustainable economic growth;
  • stimulate investment and generate new jobs;
  • save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.

The key areas of focus of the CEP are as follows.

  • The whole cycle: from production and consumption to waste management
  • The market for secondary raw materials
  • A revised legislative proposal on waste

The Circular Economy Action Plan

In March 2019, the European Commission published a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, outlining the main achievements under the Action Plan and setting out future challenges.

What does the CEP mean for Repak members?

The CEP contains revised legislation on waste and a comprehensive plastics strategy, both of which impose new obligations and targets for Repak and its members. Repak is involved in regular consultations with the EU and likeminded packaging compliance schemes in other EU Member States. In this regard, Repak has already developed initiatives, campaigns and strategies to help meet our obligations, including the Repak Members’ Plastic Pledge.

The revised legislative framework on waste entered into force at EU level in July 2018. It sets clear targets for reduction of waste and establishes an ambitious long-term path for waste management and recycling.

It includes the following:



Key CEP and SUP dates for members

The table below outlines the proposed dates for transposition of the various waste Directives under the CEP into Irish Law.

Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) 201805 July 2020
Waste Framework Directive (WFD) 201805 July 2020
Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive 201905 July 2021


Implementation of 2019 Climate Action Plan

Repak Members will also be impacted by and have a range of obligations under the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment Climate Action Plan 2019, which was published in June 2019.

These obligations are outlined in the section ‘Waste and the Circular Economy’, Actions 135 to 144, and include new legislation and policies on waste management, prevention, eco-design, recycling targets,  enforcement and environmental levies.