European Commission to advise: put waste at the centre of a circular economy

24 March, Brussels – The European Commission is currently performing a Review of Waste Policy and Legislation and may propose the introduction a 70% target for recycling, and a landfill ban for certain waste streams. It is hoped that the targets would stimulate the move towards a zero-waste economy.

24 March, Brussels – The European Commission is currently performing a Review of Waste Policy and Legislation and may propose the introduction a 70% target for recycling, and a landfill ban for certain waste streams. It is hoped that the targets would stimulate the move towards a zero-waste economy.

The Commission’s review of waste legislation involves a three-pronged approach, a review of targets, an ex-poste evaluation of five directives dealing with separate waste streams (sewage sludge, PCB/PCT, packaging and packaging waste, end of life vehicles, and batteries), and an assessment of how plastic waste can be tackled.

With global population expected to rise to around 10 billion by 2050, there will need to be a drastic change to waste management, and a recognition that waste is a resource to be used, rather than disposed of.

The Commission intends to make sure that leading Member States share best practices, but it will be an uphill task to ensure compliance. The 2008 Waste Framework Directive calls for at least 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2020, but some countries are failing to comply. The worst offender, Bulgaria, dumps all of its municipal rubbish. Germany is the best performing country, dumping none of its waste and recycling 45%.

The Commission will likely provide guidance for Member States, but will likely fall short of suggesting harmonised, cross-border Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes, whereby producers of waste must pay for waste collection and treatment. Instead the Commission will focus on increasing cost-effectiveness, boosting enforcement and monitoring national waste markets.

The Commission is expected to release a communication on the circular economy in May.

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