Could an EU Circular Economy Generate Jobs and Slash Household Bills?
Green Alliance Believes that Reused Products Could Slash Unemployment
Unemployment and the environment are never far from the news. Whether it is a television documentary or an article in the press, both topics seem to draw us in. It is with some interest then that the Green Alliance believes that an EU-wide circular economy could bring down unemployment and lower household bills. In this post, we look at how their ideas are formed.
Long Lasting Repairable Products
To highlight how this can be done, the GA has released an infographic. One aspect that they are keen to stress is that we should avoid making throwaway products, and focus on reuse and repair. To emphasise this, they showed that different smartphones were easier to repair than others. Fused cases and buried batteries made some models almost impossible to repair. While ones with a more modular design were easier to repair and replace parts.
They also revealed that British consumers often became annoyed when their electronic devices do not last as long as they expected. According to the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, many consumers found getting devices replaced was “too difficult.”
Johnny Hazel, GA’s senior policy advisor said: “As the world’s largest single market, Europe is in a unique position to secure the supply of products that are fit for the economy of the future.
“The circular economy package could prove the foundation of a harmonised market in circular economy goods and services, provided it delivers products that are long-lasting, easy to repair and recycle.
“Such a market would generate employment all round the EU and improve the competitiveness of European businesses. As importantly, it will deliver savings for households and reduce the global impact of European consumption.”
An interesting aspect of the GA’s finding was where unemployment is concerned. Their findings indicate that 0.1 jobs are generated when a thousand tonnes of waste goes to landfill. Should a product be recycled, they state that between 5-10 jobs are created per thousand tonnes of material recycled.
For reuse and manufacture, between 8-20 jobs are created per thousand tonnes of material.
Although this all looks good on paper, the main stumbling block is the device manufacturers themselves. Selling new models of electronic devices is highly lucrative. As such building in redundancy is arguably in the best interests of their business and shareholders.
As the GA points out, the EU has the capability to get the ball rolling and ensure that better design and better reuse prevails. It makes sense socially and economically, and the view of consumers across Europe is that they need products that last.
As we reported in our recent blog, however, it is not just MEPs that have a say in policies of this kind. Europe currently has 3000 lobbying groups trying to influence MEPs many of which work for large corporations that have a vested interest in several electronic device manufacturing businesses.
Nonetheless, the GA’s infographic makes interesting reading.