Ursula von der Leyen, president-elect of the European Commission. DOD photo by USS Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr (2017)

President of the European Commission (EC) Elect, Ursula von der Leyen, has placed the circular economy at the top of her agenda as she prepares for office later this year.

In readiness for her new role, which starts in November 2019, von der Leyen published Political guidelines for the next Commission (2019-2024) – A Union that strives for more: My agenda for Europe, where she said that Europe is striving to be the first climate-neutral continent.

In her mission statement, German politician von der Leyen said she is committed to “propose a New Circular Economy Action Plan focusing on sustainable resource use”, and she wants Europe to lead on the issue of single-use plastics by tackling microplastics.

Meanwhile, the EC has registered a controversial European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) against plastics, which calls on the commission to revise the Single-use Plastics Directive with the aim of banning all plastics packaging and bottles by 2027. If the ECI receives the support of at least one million citizens from at least seven member states within 12 months, the commission must meet with its representatives and set out actions it intends to take, if any, within three months.

In the US, two Democratic members of Congress have released an outline federal legislation proposal to ‘tackle plastics waste pollution crisis’. It borrows elements from the EU Plastics Strategy, including extended producer responsibility for litter clean up, and sets out requirements to make plastics bottles, packaging and other products from 100 per cent recyclable materials and a significant percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

Von der Leyen replaces current incumbent Jean-Claude Juncker.