On the 2nd of December 2015, the European Commission published the Circular Economy Package. It includes several initiatives towards a Circular Economy and is accompanied by legislative proposals.
The objective of a circular economy is to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible, while minimising the generation of waste.
In December 2014, the Commission decided to withdraw a pending legislative proposal on waste, as part of the political discontinuity exercise carried out for the first Work Programme of the Juncker Commission. The Commission committed at that time to use its new horizontal working methods to present a new package by the end of 2015 that would not only cover waste reduction targets but the full economic cycle, drawing on the expertise of all the Commission’s services.
As part of the process to develop the Circular Economy Package, the Commission organised a circular economy conference in Brussels in June 2015, attended by 700 stakeholders, wishing to contribute to shaping European economic policy making. Also, a 12-week public consultation took place from 28 May to 20 August, which received 1,500 submissions, among which ERA’s.
In addition, the Commissioners, their Cabinets and the services held intensive and collaborative consultations with key stakeholders.
The Commission is now calling on the European Parliament and Council to build on this important preparatory work and prioritise adoption and implementation of the legislative proposals.
ERA’s position and undertaking:
In April 2015, ERA, the European Rental Association, wrote its first position paper on the revision of the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC to the European Commission and met with the Environment Directorate – General of the European Commission.
In August 2015, ERA contributed to the Public Consultation on Circular Economy and sent a second position paper to the European Commission on the contribution of the equipment rental industry to a European Circular Economy.
At the same time, ERA decided to start an advocacy campaign towards some of the Permanent Representations to the European Union, with the objective not only to get a support towards the European Commission, but also to reach the national authorities. The ERA Secretariat met with the Permanent Representations of the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France, Spain and the Netherlands during 2015.
In November, ERA obtained a meeting with Member of Parliament, Sirpa Pietikainen, rapporteur for the Circular Economy towards the European Parliament.
After the European Commission has issued the Circular Economy Package, the stakeholders have had the possibility to react on it and to send their comments to the European Commission.
ERA analysed the Circular Economy Package and issued a Position Paper taking into account the pros and cons of the Package. It was then communicated to the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) and to the Environment Directorate – General (DG ENV) and ERA went back to the Permanent Representatives so that they could support the rental industry and, at the same time, ERA could help them in their answer to the Commission, who was eager to receive some comments.
Why did ERA take position on the Circular Economy?
In 2013, the ERA Board decided to revive the Sustainability Committee. It was aimed at supporting the rental industry in promoting the environmental benefits of rental as well as in developing tools for helping members to respond to requests from customers and aligning practices in the industry where relevant.
The ERA Committee chose to appoint the consulting firm Schuttelaar & Partners to carry on a study about sustainability in the rental business. This study confirmed and highlighted the benefits of the equipment rental industry in improving sustainability. The rental business has intrinsic benefits with regard to sustainability, which deserves great recognition.
ERA decided to work with its 13 national rental associations and IPAF and to make sure that all the rental companies, and especially the SMEs, are aware of the benefits of being sustainable. As a reminder, ERA has around 100 registered members all over Europe, although it represents over 5,000 rental companies thanks to its 13 national rental associations and IPAF members of ERA.
At the same time, Schuttelaar & Partners concluded an audit of European rules and regulations in order to allow ERA to better engage with policy makers. This audit identified an opportunity for ERA to take position in the revision of the Waste Framework Directive and more widely in the new Circular Economy Package planned for the end of 2015. This is where ERA started its advocacy campaign towards the European institutions.
ERA called on the European Union to promote the environment benefits of the rental concept. The concept of rental is of course known from the European authorities but is very often referred to as “leasing” or as “sharing economy” and one of ERA’s objectives is to have rental mentioned as such, since rental is different from both concepts.