March 25th marked the official launch of Reloop, the first pan-euro organisation specifically focused on issues relating to waste prevention, reduction, and recycling that represents industry, government, and environmental organizations at the European Union level. Founded by like-minded interests who share a common vision for a circular economy, Reloop aims to work as a platform for advances in policy that create enabling conditions for circularity across the European economy. The launch, which took place at the 5th annual European ReUse Conference in Brussels, was attended by more than 70 individuals from countries across Europe (Spain, UK, Poland, Slovenia, Germany, Luxemburg, Greece, Sweden, Latvia and Netherlands. to name a few), including beverage wholesalers and fillers, environmental organizations, city representatives, and members of the Commission and European Parliament. The purpose of their coming together was to collectively consider the best approach for ensuring that reusable packaging systems become part of what’s needed to achieve the mutual goal of a circular economy.
The conference follows the recent withdrawal of the Circular Economy package from the European Commission’s 2015 work plan and moves towards a new proposal; as Mr Falkenberg, Director-General for Environment, declared at the conference “the Commission has made a commitment that a new, more ambitious package will be introduced sometime before the end of 2015”.
Clarissa Morawski, Reloop’s Managing Director, said she was encouraged to see that “so many delegates from different sectors were united in their vision for the need to move to a more circular economy – one which not only supports environmental protection, but guarantees more jobs and a boost in the economy”. She explained that the organization aims to work as a catalyst in order to generate economic and environmental opportunities for all stakeholders in the value chain. This includes producers, distributors, recyclers, academia, NGOs, trade unions, as well as green regions or cities.
“We have much work to do”, reports Morawski. “In the next couple of months, the Commission will request input into the re-draft of the Circular Economy proposal, and it is imperative that they hear from all stakeholders – not only the large multi-national interests, many of which are US companies that tend to have the loudest voice at the table but do not offer new European jobs. This is a very relevant issue, because it presents a fantastic opportunity for member states to create new jobs and economic opportunities, by turning waste into resources and building European self-sufficiency”.
Domingo Jiménez Beltran, former director of the EEA and co-founder of Reloop, insisted that “we are not yet organized as citizens, as consumers, as workers, to reach our 2050 goals. We need to make Circular Economy relevant, to bring it to economic and political agendas and obtain the political will which is lacking in the road map towards a decarbonized, de-energized and dematerialized Europe”.
Now in its fifth year, the conference is a joint initiative sponsored by the European Association of Beverage Wholesalers (CEGROBB), German Environmental Aid (Deutsche Umwelthilfe, DUH), and the Association of Small and Independent Breweries in Europe (S.I.B.).