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Greening of the industry

Ensuring coherence between industrial, environmental, climate and energy policy to create an optimal business environment for sustainable growth, job creation and innovation is at key for sustainable industries.

The green transition is one of the priorities for the sustainable recovery and for the promotion of a sustainable growth.

The Commission is undertaking a range of actions to support the move to a more circular economy, where the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible, bringing major economic benefits. These cover the entire cycle from production and consumption, to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. The Commission also supports European industry in the move to a climate-neutral economy and improves the energy efficiency of products through ecodesign legislation.

Circular Economy and the Single market – why does it matter?

In a circular economy, the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible and waste and resource use are minimised. This can contribute to innovation, growth and job creation. Monitoring to which extend country and Member States are contributing to sustainability help understanding the contribution to the green transition and its pace.

Key messages

Despite some improvement in recent years, the EU economy is still mainly using primary raw materials, while secondary materials represent only 12% of the overall material demand. Committed to become more circular, the Commission aims to double this share (i.e. the circular material use rate) by 2030.

Thanks to efforts in applying Best Available Techniques, there has been an important improvement in terms of air emissions intensity of the manufacturing sector. During the last reported decade (2008-2018) air emissions intensity (air emissions per GVA) of fine particulate matter PM 2.5 decreased by more than 27%.

Eco-innovation [1] is an important driver to boost green industrialisation, and shows a steady improvement in the EU. Top leaders in eco-innovation are Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

As of March 2021, more than 78 000 Ecolabel [2] products (goods and services) were placed in the EU market. Despite the COVID-19 crisis and despite the Brexit, the EU Ecolabel figures kept growing. The vast majority of EU Ecolabel product groups have witnessed an increase in the number of products. This demonstrates a real interest for more eco-friendly products in the marketplace. The majority of EU Ecolabel products are awarded in Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

More sites registered under EMAS, the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme: in 2020 there are around 3800 organisations and 12 750 sites committed under the scheme. Especially some Member States, like Spain, Italy and Slovakia, show an important increase of registrations during 2020. ‘Waste collection, treatment and disposal activities’ is the most important leading sector. 


[1] “Eco-innovation” refers to the development of new or significantly improved products (goods and services) or organisational practices in a way which reduces the use of natural resources and decreases the release of harmful substances throughout the entire life-cycle.

[2] The EU Ecolabel is the official European Union voluntary label for environmental excellence, awarded to sustainably designed products that contribute to the EU goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and to the circular economy. EU Ecolabel products meet high standards that reduce their environmental impact across their lifecycle, from raw material extraction, to production, use and disposal.

Perfomance indicators

Indicator [1] : Circular material use rate, 2019

 

Indicator [2] : Eco innovation index (EU=100), 2019

 

Priorities

The Commission adopted a circular economy action plan in 2020, focusing on aspects related to sustainable production. The plan intends to support keeping EU resource consumption within the planetary boundaries and double EU circular material use rate in the coming decade

Facts and figures

EMAS – leading sectors, 2020

 

EMAS – organisation and site, 2020

 

EU Ecolabel – products per product group, March 2021

 

EU Ecolabel – products per country, March 2021

 

Air Emission (PM2.5) intensity by industry, 2018

 

This indicator measures the emissions intensity of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from the manufacturing sector. Grams per euro, chain linked volumes (2010)

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