The time is ripe to revive circular economy in the EU. In a matter of weeks we have seen a specific European Parliament resolution being prepared, as well as the long-awaited approval of the EU strategy on plastics, and a communication on the options to address the interface between chemical, product, and waste legislations. All of these points are covered in the report from the Commission on the implementation of the circular economy action plan published in January 2017. Among the conferences and debates that surround this report, it is worth mentioning the European circular economy stakeholder platform conference that took place in Brussels on 20 and 21 February, as well as the third international circular change conference – unfolding circular economy roadmaps – in Slovenia next 10 and 11 May.
Does it serve a purpose? It does, in the long term. However, a real commitment from local and municipal authorities is necessary if the intent is to reach out to as many people as possible. The risk here is a lack of participation and an increase of indifference that contrasts with the creation of a real democratic control by individuals and groups of people. Without their involvement, the soil will keep on serving as the recipient for the most polluting products that derive from human activity. When it comes to soil protection and food security, the discussion around the use of sewage sludge in farming and the acceptable concentration value of heavy sludge is paramount. The so-called “Land of Fires” (Terra dei fuochi) in Italy clearly illustrates this, and unfortunately, is no longer an isolated case. Circular economy can no longer merely rely on people’s best intentions.