Environmental and Circular Policies

As the Commission highlighted it in its Circular Economy Action Plan, the social economy is a pioneer in job creation linked to the circular economy. To protect this role, we participate in many EU level consultations and negotiations regarding policies related to the circular economy. These policies cover topics ranging from waste prevention to waste management (or from product regulation to separate collection of waste). Our main objective in this area is to make sure that products are repairable and re-usable, and that they do end up being re-used, preferably by social enterprises.

Waste prevention and management

We mainly participate in the development of waste prevention and management policies that prioritise reduction and re-use over any other form of waste treatment.

In July 2018, the Waste Framework Directive was updated, including many progressive policies to foster the development of re-use social enterprises. We closely monitor its implementation in various EU Member States (in France for example).

The Circular Economy Action Plan published in March 2021 also contains promises of actions to move up the waste hierarchy.

What are we working on?

Extended Producer Responsibility

The Waste Framework Directive was also updated to include many progressive policies to foster the development of re-use social enterprises, including encouragement for Member States to make them participate in the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). We are involved in the development of EPR schemes that thoroughly follow the waste hierarchy, allowing social enterprises to have a prominent role in the prevention, collection and preparing for re-use of waste.

What are we working on?


The updated Waste Framework Directive also provided an obligation for Member States to collect textile waste separately by 2025. In addition, the new Circular Economy Action Plan published in March 2020 contains a commitment by the Commission to develop an EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles which is currently under development. We are ensuring that the historic role played by social enterprises in the collection, sorting and resale of textiles is protected and fostered by EU policies.
What are we working on?


In March 2021, new Ecodesign rules eventually entered into force, making certain types of products such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridges more repairable, notably for professional repairers. Together with our partners from the Right to Repair Coalition, we push for even more ambitious requirements ensuring that all re-use operators, as well as civil society initiatives (repair cafés) and consumers, are able to benefit from these repairability requirements. Our objective is to widen the scope of ecodesign requirements by including products that are not energy-related such as textiles and furniture.

What are we working on?


The management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is covered at EU level by the WEEE Directive (2012), containing vague provisions on prioritising preparation for re-use over recycling. In March 2021, the update of the Ecodesign minimum requirements for certain types of products including fridges, washing machines and dishwashers entered into force, requiring manufacturers wishing to sell these products on the EU market to follow certain repairability requirements.

Stemming from the Circular Economy Action Plan, a Circular Electronics Initiative is also under development. We are working on making these products more durable and repairable as well as collection models for WEEE that are more re-use friendly.

What we are working on?

  • The development of Ecodesign minimum requirements for electronics products to facilitate maintenance, repair and access to information
  • The potential update of the WEEE directive to develop WEEE minimum treatment requirements for collection, storing, recycling and preparing for re-use
  • The development of alternative collection models for electronics that safeguard reusability