A Conservative MEP has called for more measures in the European Commission’s circular economy (CE) package to drive markets for secondary raw materials .
The CE package was launched on 2 December by vice-presidents Jyrki Katainen and Frans Timmermans, and included recycling targets of 65% for household waste and 75% for packaging waste.
At the time, industry figures such as FEAD president David Palmer-Jones criticised an absence of measures to support secondary materials markets.
Katainen has now presented the proposals to the European Parliament, prompting Julie Girling, who represents the south-west of England, to tell fellow MEPs that the package “does not properly address the value of the market in recyclates and how we are going to do something to boost it”.
She warned that a poor market for recyclates could lead to public mistrust.
“I am particularly concerned about the consumer because I am getting a lot now from people who have seen mountains of plastic that have been collected at a cost to them by their taxes locally but is not being recycled because there is no market for what comes out of that recycled process,” she said.
“Mr Timmermans said, famously, that trash is cash. Well, at the moment, it is not. Trash is a financial liability. And I don’t see anything in the programme of your proposals that is going to do anything to fix that in the short and medium term. People are losing faith in the fact that this market is going to develop.
“We rely on consumers to change their habits. If that’s not rewarded then that is not going to continue.”
Katainen EP March 2016
In response to the concerns raised by Girling and other MEPs, Katainen (pictured) said that redefining waste would help to boost secondary markets.
“We have a single market on oil and a single market on plastic but we do not have a single market for used plastic. This is just a regulatory issue.
”We must make sure that used raw materials have the same rights to circulate and go across borders that raw materials have,” he added.
“Part of the reason is that used materials are classified as waste, which is treated differently to virgin materials. It is one of our biggest challenges to create a single market, for instance for plastics.”
He later posted on social media: “The work on the implementation of the CE action plan is on track; some measures are expected to be adopted already this year.”
FEAD recently reinstated its call for the package to “cut the administrative burden for trading high-quality secondary raw materials in the EU”.
Its position paper also called for “minimum recycled content requirements for selected products”.
The work on the implementation of the #circulareconomy Action Plan is on track; some measures are expected to be adopted already this year.— Jyrki Katainen (@jyrkikatainen) 16 March 2016