The economy plays a vital role in our lives by providing access to employment, products and services that help us thrive. Unfortunately, with its key sectors like agriculture, energy and transport, our economy also harms the environment and causes climate change. Europe needs a circular, carbon-neutral and zero-pollution economy.

How long should your smart phone last?

A product lifetime is the interval from when a product is sold to when it is discarded. There are three types of lifetimes used to describe products:

  • Actual lifetime is the interval from when a product is sold to when it is discarded or replaced.
  • Designed lifetime is the lifetime that a manufacturer defines its product to remain functional for.
  • Desired lifetime is the average time that consumers want products to last.
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Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

We already have the knowledge, technologies and tools we need to make key production and consumption systems such as food, mobility and energy sustainable.

Our future well-being and prosperity depend on this and our ability to harness society-wide action to bring about change and create a better future.

Reducing buildings' emissions through circularity

Buildings play a vital role in Europe’s environment and climate policy, given their significant use of resources and energy.  

  • Avoiding the use of new materials helps reduce C02 emissions and save resources and resources.
  • Extending building lifespans through repairs and retrofitting helps reduce demand for new construction, which requires many more materials than renovations.
  • Applying circular renovation strategies, such as using materials that are recycled or designed for disassembly, could cumulatively reduce approximately 650 million tonnes of materials and save substantial amounts of CO2 from 2022 to 2050 if the strategies are implemented through renovating the EU building stock.

Dive deeper

Do you want to know more about climate emissions from energy and transport?

The trouble with electronics

Over 20 kg of electronics is produced annually per person in the EU. Household appliances, computers, TVs and mobile phones are complex products with diverse materials, making them difficult to recycle. Still, some of these materials are scarce resources and recycling them is critical for the EU economy and environment.

Two EU initiatives explicitly target electronic recycling:

  • The right to repair: The EU Commission is planning several initiatives to improve the reparability of products. This includes the right to repair, a sustainable products initiative, improved design requirements, and measures that make repairing computers and other electronics more cost-effective.
  • The Ecodesign Directive provides EU rules for improving products’ environmental performance, including minimum energy efficiency requirements.

Combined, these initiatives can significantly reduce environmental impact and help the EU meet existing environmental, climate and circularity objectives.

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