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EU recycling league table 'worthless'

Resource Association (RA) chief executive Ray Georgeson has called for EU recycling targets to be renamed if a common methodology cannot be agreed.

He described the current European recycling league table as “worthless”, and called on the European Commission to agree a universal methodology or else rename targets as merely ’collection for recycling’ goals.

The Commission has already suggested that four reporting methods under the Waste Framework Directive be merged into one consistent guideline.

Some industry groups, including the French Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services, have said the suggested point of measurement – after treatment – is too far downstream to show accurately the amount a country has recycled.

Georgeson said it could be difficult for agreement to be reached with member states whose figures would be adversely affected by the change.

Speaking at a debate hosted by the RA on 25 May in Brussels, Georgeson (pictured) said: “The European Commission has a golden opportunity to finally end the confusion and discrepancies in the measurement of recycling across Europe.

“This should be done by settling on the recognition that the final point of recycling is the correct and fair point at which to measure recycling rates.

“While we recognise that this may be challenging to calculate across materials and reach agreement, it should not be technically impossible to do, noting the individual complexities in certain material streams.”

He added that more technical work should be commissioned to settle any issues, if necessary.

“If in the final negotiations they really cannot cope with agreeing to this then, at the very least, any headline recycling target of 65% should be properly described as what it is: a collection for recycling target, not a recycling target.

“This level of integrity would be an improvement on the nonsense we currently have, with an unbelievable and worthless EU recycling league table where no two methods of measurement are exactly the same.”

Recycling targets of 65% for municipal waste and 75% for packaging waste by 2030 were two of the headline figures from the Commission’s circular economy package released last December.

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