Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

EU proposes new waste and recycling targets

  • EU wants to ban dumping recycle materials into landfills (Photo: United Nations Photo)

The European Commission on Wednesday (2 July) laid out new targets to boost recycling and curb waste throughout the Union.

The plans are part of a larger ‘circular economy’ initiative where products, instead of being thrown away, are re-used, repaired and recycled.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“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,” EU environment commissioner Janez Potocnik told reporters in Brussels.

The idea is to get Europeans to recycle 70 percent of municipal waste and 80 percent of packaging waste by 2030.

A dumping ban in landfills by 2025 would be imposed on plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard, and biodegradable waste.

The EU went through 90 billion single-use plastic bags in 2010 alone, according to NGOs. The Brussels-based Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), for its part, notes 42 percent of beverage cartons were recycled in the EU last year.

Overall, the EU produced 2.5 billion tonnes of waste in 2010. Around 36 percent was recycled while the rest was either buried or burned.

Up to 600 million tonnes of materials in discarded waste each year could be recycled, notes the commission.

The commission has also set a political target to increase resource productivity by 30 percent by 2030.

The non-binding target is measured on the basis of gross domestic productivity (GDP) relative to raw material consumption.

Meeting the higher targets, it says, could create almost 600,000 new jobs.

At the EU-decision making level, it means revising the three directives on waste, landfills, and packaging.

While largely welcomed by pro-green groups, the plans have been criticised for not including more concrete measures to limit the resource footprints inherent in the production of goods consumed within the EU.

Brussels-based Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) notes the target for improving resource use only takes into account the weight of materials used.

“The plans fail to address resources, like land and water, contained in the products we consume,” said FoEE's Ariadna Rodrigo in a statement.

The NGO also says creating a resource productivity indicator by linking it to GDP will distort results.

It points out member states with high GDP will “appear more resource efficient than they really are”.

The leading business lobby group in Europe, BusinessEurope also takes a critical line on linking GDP to the resource efficiency target. It argues the commission should be focusing on efficiency instead of quantity in terms of resources used.

EU to change resource-wasting economic model

The European Commission is working on policy solutions it says are needed to better address the consequences of a rising population, excessive consumption, and dwindling resources.

Visual Data

Europe's water quality falls short

Due to pollution, the majority of European rivers, lakes and estuaries fall below the minimum environmental standards, a report by the European Environment Agency reveals.

Focus

EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo

A long-standing cooperation between the EU and China on carbon capture and storage has fallen off the political agenda – with the European Commission not having any comment available when asked for an update.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us