A packaging lobby group has said there is no “one-size-fits-all solution” to separate collection and has called for better extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation.
Key recommendations of a report discussed at a high-level conference on the circular economy in Brussels on 29 January included a call for the mandatory separate collection of recyclates and emphasised the benefits of pay-as-you-throw.
The Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance (Expra) has welcomed the report, but said decisions on separate waste collection had to be based on local circumstances.
Expra managing director Joachim Quoden, pictured, said: “Following best practices in other regions or member states is therefore the way forward. This has to go hand-in-hand with comprehensive awareness raising and education campaigns for the inhabitants, but also from companies in business-to-business.”
According to the report, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Tallinn in Estonia and Helsinki in Finland have the highest rates of separate collections, hitting 55.4%, 47.2% and 38.6%, respectively.
When European environment commissioner Karmenu Vella spoke at the launch of the report, he encouraged other member states to follow suit.
“When these three member states score so highly like this, it shows the importance of political will,” he said. “They show that moving from old-fashioned disposal to more intelligent waste treatment can happen relatively quickly, with no need for a lengthy period of adaptation.
“All member states can embrace the circular economy approach in their waste policies, and this study shows them how to do it.”
Quoden also backed the report’s promotion of co-operation between EPR schemes and local authorities.
He said: “Successful EPR must be based on a genuine partnership between public authorities and EPR providers. The challenge posed by optimum waste collections show this.
“Better legislation, including minimum requirements for EPR operators across the value chain, is essential.”
Separate collection of recyclable waste paper, metal, plastic and glass is currently a legal requirement, except where it has been shown not to be technically, economically or environmentally practicable.
The European Commission’s circular economy proposals released in December introduced an extra bio-waste stream and included a landfill ban for all separately material.