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Boost to the Circular Economy standards

05/06/2020

The Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE), wants to help celebrate World Environment Day, which has been held every 5 June since it was established by the UN in 1974.

Standards provide companies with environmental protection as they contain the best practices, recognised by everyone. One of these major challenges is the circular economy and to successfully enable it, the Government has just approved the Spanish Circular Economy Strategy (EEEC), which aims to move from a linear economy to a circular one by 2030, as well as the draft waste law that provides for the separate collection of new waste streams to become mandatory.

The UNE standards contibute towards supporting this new model of circular economy, both in general and multisectoral environments, as well as in specific ones, establishing a common understanding of principles, strategies and practices in this field.

In a general environment, the industrial sector is increasingly incorporating initiatives related to the Integrated Product Policy (IPP). There are many industrial sectors –from plastics to footwear and from the manufacture of electrical or construction products to textiles, the chemical sector, etc.– that incorporate the circular economy as a competitive axis, and as a result, integrate the analysis of the product life cycle into their competitive strategies.

Furthermore, the application of standards in public procurement is assessed positively, sometimes it is even a mandatory requirement. Among others, are the standards for Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001), Environmental (ISO 14001) or Energy Management (ISO 50001), as well as the life cycle analysis and environmental communication standards, such as eco-labelling and product environmental declarations.

Furthermore, standards are fundamental to providing key information to consumers on the environmental impact or safety of products and services.

CTN 323 Circular Economy

In a specific field, Spanish industry, through its associations, has taken the initiative to promote UNE's CTN 323 ,made up of 140 experts from 80 organisations from all the parties involved, within the Spanish standardisation body.

The objective of this committee is to channel Spain's position in the development of international and European standards in this field, as well as develop horizontal national standards that help organisations to successfully overcome their challenges within the Circular Economy.

In the international field, standards are developed in the ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy, the first committee to consider the Circular Economy from a global point of view. In Europe, work is being done on CEN/CLC JTC 10 Energy-related products – Material Efficiency Aspects for Ecodesign.

In parallel, UNE has created the Circular Economy Consultation Commission, a multi-sector and transverse dialogue between UNE members and Public Administrations. It comprises 45 experts, including a number of leading national Spanish sectoral associations, various Ministries and other key actors.