MEPs agreed on setting binding targets for waste reduction and the introduction of a five-step hierarchy that gives priority to prevention, reuse and recycling over landfills.

MEPs were voting on two 2005 Commission initiatives to replace the existing 1975 waste framework, with the intention of placing more emphasis on prevention and recycling. The first, the EU waste directive, aims to set binding targets for waste for the first time, while the second, the Thematic Strategy on the Prevention and Recycling of Waste, focuses on the long-term EU waste strategy.

Waste is a growing problem for the EU, which produces more than 500kg of waste per person per year, a figure that outstrips GDP growth. Official statistics show that of the 3.5 billion tonnes of waste produced by the EU each year, less than a third of the municipal waste is recycled and almost half goes to landfill sites.