Europe ups its waste targets

3rd July 2014


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  • Waste ,
  • Minimisation ,
  • Recycling ,
  • EU

Author

Barbara Jane Jamieson

Recycling 70% of municipal waste by 2030 is among a host of new targets adopted by the European commission as part of a package of measures to achieve a circular economy in the EU.

Launching the targets, outgoing environment commissioner Janez Potonik said: “We are living with linear economic systems inherited from the 19th century in the 21st century world of emerging economies, millions of new middle-class consumers, and inter-connected markets. If we want to compete we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste.”

The commission outlined a circular economy in which reuse, repair and recycling become the norm, and waste is seen as a thing of the past. Keeping productive materials in use for longer and reusing them would also improve EU competitiveness, says the commission. Efforts to use resources more efficiently and promote the circular economy will be guided by a political target to increase resource productivity by 30% by 2030.

In addition to the 70% recycling target for municipal waste, the commission is proposing that member states recycle 80% of packaging by 2030. It also wants a ban on burying recyclable waste – plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard, and biodegradable waste – in landfill from 2025. To achieve this, the commission will increase recovery targets for specific materials from 2020. It says the overall objective is to move towards the virtual elimination of landfilling by 2030.

Under the proposals, existing waste legislation will be simplified and minimum-operating conditions established for extended producer responsibility schemes. Also, tailor-made approaches will be implemented for specific waste streams, such as marine litter, phosphorus, construction and demolition, food, hazardous and plastic waste.

The legislative proposals will now pass to the European council and parliament.


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