Institutional agreements reached on waste and recycling directives

Brussels – Key parts of the EU’s Circular Economy Package got the go-ahead this week as the European Parliament secured agreements on waste and recycling. The agreements establish binding waste reduction targets and updated rules to decrease waste generation, ensure a better control of waste management, encourage the reuse of products and improve recycling in all EU countries.

Waste Framework Directive

Under the revised Waste Framework Directive, European households and businesses will have to recycle at least 55% of their municipal waste by 2025. After 2025, the recycling target will increase 1 percentage point every year to reach 65% in 2035. Given the large discrepancies among member states, countries who recycled less than 20% in 2013 will enjoy a five-year grace period.

Stricter rules will be put in place to guarantee separate collection of different waste streams, including all bio-waste (by 2023) and used textiles (by 2025). 2025 will also see the compulsory separate collection of hazardous refuse, with manufacturers obliged to inform about any substances of very high concern in their products.

Food waste is only subject to a non-binding target, with the objective to halve it by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A binding target was rejected as member stats argued that there was no reliable data on what to count as food waste.

Packaging Waste Directive

A separate directive covering packaging requires governments to ensure that 70% of product packaging is being recycled by 2030. The figure is different for individual packaging materials: 30% for wood, 55% for plastic, 75% for glass, and 85% for paper. Governments must ensure an interim overall target of 65% is met by the end of 2025.

Member States must also take measures to encourage the increase in the share of reusable packaging placed on the market and of systems to reuse packaging. Such measures may include deposit return schemes and economic incentives. The proposal also defines general requirements for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes with a view to improving design for re-use and high quality recycling. Extended producer responsibility schemes will then become mandatory for all packaging by end-2024.

Landfill Directive

No more than 10% of waste will go to landfill by 2035. Currently the EU28 average is 28%. Estonia, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Malta, Romania and Slovakia secured a five-year extension, providing they reduce the level of municipal waste going into landfills to below a quarter by 2025. The Commission will then consider, by 2024, setting a quantitative per capita target on landfilling.

Additional legislation on end-of-life vehicles; batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators; waste electrical and electronic equipment, was also agreed upon. The Parliament vote comes four months after the same laws and targets were notionally agreed by the Commission, Parliament and national governments. Environment ministers from all EU28 countries are expected to formally approve the agreements in the coming weeks. Member states will then have two years to transpose the directives into domestic law.

The adopted legislative texts can be found here: Waste Framework Directive, Packaging Waste Directive, Landfil Directive, and the Directive on End-of-life vehicles, batteries, and waste electrical and electronice equipment (WEEE)

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