Leading industry figures have backed the UK’s call for the European Commission’s circular economy (CE) proposals to focus more on the financial benefits.
The Commission’s long-awaited CE package, released on 2 December, included recycling targets for 65% of household waste and 75% of packaging waste by 2030.
But on 16 December Shan Morgan, the UK’s representative in the EU Council, said the Commission should include a headline figure on the potential increase in EU GDP that the package offered.
Speaking at the first discussion on the CE package at the EU environment council, Morgan also called for lower targets, saying they were “too high to be achievable”.
The Environmental Services Association (ESA) executive director Jacob Hayler, pictured, said he agreed the action plan “should do more to draw out the benefits to jobs and growth that a more circular economy could bring”.
Hayler also queried the proposed recycling targets, saying they would “undoubtedly be challenging to achieve, particularly in a world of low commodity prices and stretched public sector budgets”.
“A greater focus in the package on measures that incentivise the use of recycled material in products and packaging would help to drive quality and value in the supply chain,” he said.
“Using demand-side policies to pull material through the system will give us the best chance of meeting the higher targets the Commission is proposing.”
CIWM chief executive Steve Lee (left) said targets were “almost irrelevant”.
He said: ”All this measure really does is signal the desired direction of travel and help to maintain the momentum on recycling.
“What we needed from the CE package was a blueprint for change throughout the product supply chain to stimulate resource efficiency and waste prevention, reduce whole life impacts, and increase the opportunities for reuse, remanufacturing and recycling at the point of disposal.
“These are the areas where real economic and environmental benefits are to be found. Although there are some proposals put forward to address these more challenging objectives, the fact that they sit in a relatively vague action plan with no clear timetable for delivery is the true weak point in the package.”
The Commission has called on the European Parliament and Council to prioritise adoption and implementation of the proposals, expected to be 18 months from now.