The 2016 NEEIP Forum addresses the Circular Economy Package, highlighting what the industry has already achieved and what still remains to be done to obtain a circular economy that best serves society.
NEEIP is the European Non-Energy Extractive Industries including Aggregates, Cement, Ceramics, Expanded Clay, Gypsum, Industrial Minerals, Mining, Natural Stones and Salt. The NEEIP Forum is the annual event with high level representatives from the European Commission, European Parliament and other relevant EU Institutions addressing topical policies currently under debate.
It is a great pleasure for me to open this NEEIP Forum and to welcome our distinguished guests from the European Commission, the Dutch Presidency, the city of Brussels and the industry.
The Non-Energy Extractive Industry Panel (NEEIP) represents key suppliers of minerals that are vital to the EU economy and its sustainable growth objectives and provide direct jobs to more than 530,000 people across the EU. These industries supply raw materials for a wide range of applications and are therefore crucial for the competitiveness of various manufacturing sectors and the development of green technologies.
The concept of circular economy is of paramount importance for this industry. Indeed, its main goal is to use raw materials more efficiently, boost recycling and at the same time minimise the generation of waste. To this end, the new Circular Economy Package comprises an EU Action Plan for the circular economy with more concrete actions focusing on product design and processes as well as consumption and markets for secondary raw materials.
A circular economy needs primary and secondary raw materials!
Primary raw materials will remain essential to Europe’s growth. Our industries are committed to continuing to improve efficiency all along the value-chain. Still, due to chemistry, physics, demography, availability, quality and environmental requirements as well as economic viability, the potential within waste streams can only partially replace primary raw material inputs. Many of the materials in question are abundant in nature and their extraction can be economically and environmentally sustainable. This reality cannot be fully reflected by any Lead Resource Efficiency Indicator and such an indicator should not be imposed in the context of the Circular Economy Package.
I will conclude this introduction by stressing that recycling needs waste! The circular economy cannot be implemented without a good system for collection, sorting and separation of waste. This would improve the quality of materials available for recycling. It is essential to sustainable economic growth in Europe that we succeed in further developing markets for secondary raw materials.
I am looking forward to hearing from our speakers and the audience how this can be achieved and how the non-energy extractive industry can contribute to this common goal.