The UK may face compulsory European recycling targets and a massive increase in energy from waste (EfW) if the European Union gets its way.
European Parliament support for mandatory Europe-wide recycling targets has been won by MEP Caroline Jackson. She informed MEPs about the importance of introducing new recycling targets to the European Waste Framework Directive.
Amended targets include recycling 50% of household waste and 70% of construction and demolition waste by 2020.
If the European Parliament votes in the amended Directive in June, Jackson said the targets could be adopted by the end of June.
Then member states would introduce legislation to move towards the 2020 recycling targets, she added.
We havent set a date for this because it would be done fairly rapidly and there is a long lead in time of 12 years to the 50% domestic and 70% construction targets. But the European Parliament and European Commission will be actively reviewing and chivvying member states that havent done anything, she said.
European Council representatives have become more flexible towards this issue, and Jackson is hopeful that an agreement on targets will be reached.
However, she added that opposition could come from German representatives, as they seem sceptical that targets could be reached. She also mentioned Eastern European countries, which are starting from a long way back and they might have difficulty but they have 12 years.
MEPs also voted to set EU-wide waste prevention targets. So by 2012, member states will have had to stabilise the amount of waste they produce to an amount no higher than they produced in 2008.
This is the first time that the European Parliament has intervened to insert such targets and reflects the Environment Committees concern that recycling must accompany incineration in order to process waste diverted from landfill.
She was pleased that MEPs voted for EfW plants to qualify as recovery rather than disposal operations when they meet the energy efficiency criteria in the new directive.
Local authorities have now got an argument that incineration can qualify as a recovery rather than disposal if it runs with energy efficiency, for example combined heat and power. The idea of incinerators as bonfires has gone, she added.
The European Parliament has also voted to include industrial and manufacturing waste (I+M) in the Directive, which the Commission opposes but will now be discussed. The Commission has said it doesnt have I+M waste data to set the targets. But Jackson said: The amendment went through so well have to see what we can do to make it work.