The European Commission adopted the latest two Thematic Strategies for the environment: a Communication on the Thematic Strategy on Waste Prevention and Recycling and a Communication on the Thematic Strategy on Natural Resources, plus an associated proposal for amending the Waste Framework Directive.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Europe 's largest federation of environmental citizens' organisations , is extremely disappointed and concerned with the content of these proposals.

John Hontelez, EEB Secretary General, said: " This Commission has repeatedly confirmed that 'better regulation' is not equivalent to de-regulation or worse regulation. The Waste Strategy package released today casts serious doubt over this commitment. It not only lacks the elements to tackle waste prevention and resource use properly, but is dismantling an essential piece of existing EU legislation - and undermining the policy framework necessary to strongly promote an EU waste recycling society. It will thus contribute to increasing - rather than alleviating - pressure on Europe 's environment and public health ."

The proposals on waste policy fail to clarify the five levels of waste hierarchy - prevention, reuse, recycling, energy recovery and disposal - and reclassify municipal waste incinerators as recovery merely on the basis of energy efficiency criteria, without taking into account further environmental impact and resource efficiency factors. The package also fails to set EU recycling targets for biowaste. "

This is a flawed policy shift towards abandoning the active steering of EU waste management up the waste hierarchy, away from landfill and incineration to prevention, reuse and recycling ", said Stefan Scheuer, EU Policy Director at the EEB. " Giving material recycling and incineration the same status is flattening the application of waste hierarchy - and promotes waste incineration that is damaging to the environment. And instead of creating new jobs in the recycling service sector, we will see investment in environmentally unsound incineration of waste, especially in new member states ." Critically, the package also opens up a dangerous precedent for loopholes in scope, and abandons the existing waste stream approach - where producers are held responsible - in favour of a more complex materials approach where producer responsibility cannot practically be used. "

We also see a dangerous trend, that the Commission is shifting away from harmonised EU waste management policies towards the deharmonisation and re-nationalisation of waste management, depending on unenforceable national waste plans and undefined 'lifecycle thinking'. This is illustrated well in the decision not to propose legislation with recycling targets on biodegradable wastes or other waste streams as requested by the 6EAP ," said Melissa Shinn, EEB Waste and Resources Policy Officer.

The package does contain some useful tools - such as obligatory national plans on waste prevention - but fails to set, or even commit to setting, an EU goal or roadmap on how to tackle the ever increasing levels of waste generated. The Commission's Resource Strategy, also released today, similarly shows a complete disregard for the 6EAP requirements. It lacks goals and targets for resource efficiency and the diminished use of resources. Given the dramatic threats to the climate system, ecosystems and productive capacity caused by unsustainable resource use worldwide, this lack of ambition and targets is very disappointing.

The strategy also lacks ambition, timetables and specific policy measures - or even a road map to arrive at targets and measures at some point in the future. So whilst the activities described in the strategy are useful, it in fact implies a postponement of concrete action for at least five years.