European parliament to vote on circular economy

6th July 2015


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  • Politics & Economics ,
  • EU ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Recycling

Author

Karen Bozier

MEPs are to vote on proposals for a target to increase resource efficiency by 30% and to recycle 70% of waste by 2030.

The proposals are outlined in a report by a member of the parliament's environment committee, Sirpa Pietikåinen, a Finnish MEP from the left-leaning EPP group. The report itself is non-binding, but if it is backed by MEPs it will become the parliament's official response to the European commission's current consultation on the circular economy, which closes on 20 August.

The report suggests legally binding targets for different waste streams, similar to those suggested in the previous commission's draft policy on the circular economy, which was withdrawn by the new president Jean-Claude Juncker at the end of last year.

Other proposals set out by Pietikåinen include the creation of a harmonised method for evaluating the environmental footprint of products, a review of ecodesign legislation to cover all main product groups rather than just those that are energy-related, and market incentives encourage use of reused and recycled materials. Resource efficiency should be increased by 30% compared with 2014, with the commission designing indicators to measure this by the end of 2015.

The proposals go further than the previous ones by suggesting a ban on the incineration of any recyclable or compostable waste and mandatory separate collections for food and garden waste, according Pieter de Pous, policy officer at campaign group EEB.

De Pous said the report represented "a proper level of ambition" and was a major contribution to the commission's consultation. The committee on employment and social affairs has unanimously supported the report, which sets out measures will create an estimated 180,000 jobs in the waste management sector. The committee on industry, research and energy also backed the report, with 53 in favour and only eight members voting against it.

However, NGOs fear the report could be watered down at the vote on Wednesday, de Pous said. A handful of MEPs have suggested a split vote, meaning they can support some of the measures suggested in the report but not all.

The EEB and the Aldersgate Group have written to all MEPS urging them to back the report. "Moving to a more resource efficient economy is a major opportunity for the EU that must not be missed. Producers and the business community have a tremendous role to play, with an increasing number of companies recognising the business case for improved resource efficiency as a way of giving their businesses and the EU as a whole a unique competitive advantage," the letter states.

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