Thursday

26th May 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“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.

Focus

EU's Arctic policy targets environment, Russia

Eight years in the making, the EU's new Arctic strategy focuses on environmental issues and speaks of "selective engagement" with Russia despite the Ukraine war.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  2. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  3. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  4. Innovators Under 35Meet MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Award Recipients from Belgium on 25 May, 6pm
  5. Open EuropeJoin the Brussels Brexit Debate on Wednesday, 25 May at 5:00 PM
  6. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  7. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  8. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  11. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan
  12. Belgrade Security ForumOpen Call for Applications! Join the Events Team at the 6th Belgrade Security Forum.

Latest News

  1. Greek debt deal doesn't solve the problem
  2. EU to relax online shopping, but not film or music
  3. European pioneers battle air pollution in the courts
  4. ECB: Populist surge is bad for business 
  5. EU states 'complicit' in Egypt repression
  6. Privacy whiz Max Schrems set to challenge other big firms
  7. 'Rude' ex-commissioner blanks MEPs' diesel probe
  8. EU and IMF agree debt relief for Greece