Commission bins waste & recycling programme

By Joyeeta Basu

- Last updated on GMT

 Environmentalists want the Commission to either match their targets or increase them.
Environmentalists want the Commission to either match their targets or increase them.

Related tags Recycling

The European Commission (EC) has dropped an environment programme on waste, incineration and recycling laws because it did not “complete the circle” of creating zero waste in Europe.

The package, called Circular Economy, was an action plan on efficient energy use and had been supported by 15 firms, including Unilever and environment campaigners.

A Commission official confirmed to FoodNavigator that the decision to withdraw the proposal was taken last Wednesday.  “The Circular Economy covered only half the circle by proposing waste reduction. The Commission is committed to resubmitting a more ambitious proposal later this year that will extend to looking at production processes, product design and creating a market for recyclable products.

Responding to criticism that the current proposal should have been amended and not dropped, the official said that they would rather table a comprehensive plan than do it “piece by piece”.

“There are lots of recyclable products but there is no market for them. The Commission will look at creating them. It wants to develop products that can be repaired, recycled, reused and refurbished,” ​he added.

New versus old

Some of the Circular Economy’s recycling target was to increase recycling rates to 70% by 2030; reducing food waste by 30% by 2025; increasing packaging waste recycling and reuse; and phasing out landfilling for recycling waste. The current average recycling rate across the EU is around 42%, according to an Eurostat report last year.

But the new proposals are being considered to update legislation around waste management and recycling. A circular by the Commission said. “Products which could be re-used are sometimes landfilled. Examples include glass bottles, which could be recycled or re-used. Ideas to address this issue could include incentivising re-use by counting it towards the recycling targets for certain materials in the waste review.”

Disappointed and suspicious

Friends of the Earth specialist on resource use Ariadna Rodrigo who has been following the developments closely said they were disappointed with the decision. “It is unacceptable that despite the support it had they axed it. Action can be delayed by two years by starting over instead of making amendments to the existing package. The Commission is not giving out the right signal at all.”

“A more ambitious plan would be to either match our targets or increase it. We will monitor the proposals closely,” ​she said.

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