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EU waste policy implementation review imminent

The European Commission is to publish a review of the implementation of its waste policy before the end of the month, as the circular economy (CE) package’s rapporteur called for a “early warning system” for countries that look to be missing their recycling targets.

The Commission said it was responding to fears expressed from MEPs that member states may struggle to implement its CE proposals, published last year. It warned that many member states were “very far” from reaching their current waste management targets.

The CE proposals include a 65% recycling target for municipal waste by 2030, which some member states including the UK have said might be unachievable. Fears have been expressed about the UK’s ability to reach the 50% household recycling target by 2020, with its current level flatlining below 45%.

Ciobanu dordea

Ciobanu-Dordea

DG Environment director Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea (pictured) said the Environmental Implementation Review would be published at the end of May. It will lay down the framework for an initiative from the Commission devoted to improving implementation, to be launched later this year.

A report assessing the implementation of all environmental legislation, including waste management, by member states from 2010-12 will also be published in the second half of this year.

At a discussion in the European Parliament on 24 May, Ciobanu-Dordea said his department dealt with 20% of all EU Directive infringements. A fifth of these related to enforcement of waste legislation.

“This shows in very few figures the importance we are putting on securing compliance with waste management rules,” he said.

Sadauskas

Sadauskas

The Commission’s director of green economy Kestutis Sadauskas (pictured) added that infringement procedures were not sufficient to address the root causes of the structural implementation, and his department focused instead on offering technical assistance, share of best practice and financial support.

“Our reports have identified some risk factors in relation to 2020 targets, but I remain optimistic because member states still have four or five years to that date and are taking steps to achieve them,” he added.

Bonafe

Bonafe

In response, the CE package’s rapporteur Simona Bonafe (pictured) said she did not share the Commission’s optimism, saying “we need to review all the instruments that are available”.

“With the current standards, we are very far from reaching our targets set for 2020 so something has to be done.

“We have to work on this, we need to have political will, we have to understand why these infringements take place and know the reasons behind any discrepancies. We need to make it clear that we are serious about this.

“We have the proposal for an early warning system and we need to see that the Commission makes proper use of it, as it does in financial areas.”

Bonafe is set to release an amended CE report to the Parliament in the next few days, which she said “is also going to have an impact on the new recycling targets as well as other ambitious objectives”.

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