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Commission urged to prioritise reuse

The umbrella group for reuse organisations across Europe has urged the European Commission to place greater emphasis on the activity in its circular economy (CE) proposals.

In its response to the Commission’s CE package published late last year, the Re-use and Recycling EU Social Enterprises network (RREUSE) says it is “critically important that reuse of unwanted but reusable goods is the top priority”.

RREUSE says more support for its members is important because such organisations help low-income households to access affordable essential goods and help to train and employ thousands of people.

“Putting second-hand first will save energy and resources and create thousands of jobs,” it says.

New targets in Spain backing reuse are quoted as good practice (see box below).

RREUSE argues that reuse and repair should be “at the heart of any vision of a CE”, and supports a Commission move to investigate possible repair-friendly criteria within the Ecodesign Directive.

“We would, however, support further ’pull’ measures such as smart use of taxation (such as zero VAT on repair activities to make the sector more competitive), measures that would be useful beyond the waste legislation.”

There are six main responses:

  • The definition of preparing for reuse and methodology must be clarified to avoid unintended consequences and regulatory burden for many second-hand operators
  • Separate quantitative targets for preparation for reuse and recycling to ensure access to reusable products and create thousands of local jobs
  • The role of social enterprises working in waste management must be explicitly supported within the waste directives through clauses in tendering procedures
  • Rules on extended producer responsibility rules must better support preparation for reuse and repair activities
  • Specific incentives and targets are also needed in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive to encourage more reuse of packaging and durable design
  • Concrete legislation is needed to improve the ease of repair of products beyond waste directives

Reuse in Spain

Spain has recently set a national preparation for reuse target as part of its National Framework Plan for Waste Management (2016-22). It looks to achieve 50% preparing for reuse and recycling by 2020 of which 2% will be prepared for reuse deriving mainly from textiles, WEEE and furniture and from other waste streams that can be prepared for reuse.

This is in addition to a Spanish Royal Decree on WEEE that requires 2% of large household appliances and 3% of IT equipment to be prepared for reuse from 2017. The targets will rise to 3% and 4% respectively from 2018. The main reason for the setting of this target for WEEE was the potential to create 4,700 jobs.

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