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EU's 50% recycling target doesn't include green waste

Green waste will not count towards the 50% target for municipal waste as set out in the revisions to the European Waste Framework Directive, according to a senior Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) official.

Waste regulation policy manager John MacIntyre, speaking at the East Meets Waste conference in Cambridge, said that the target for recycling and re-use of municipal waste in the current version of the revisions only applied to metal, glass, paper and plastic.

Although the revisions are still to go through the full European Union (EU) legal process before becoming mandatory, the compromise agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Euorpean Council, European Commission and Slovenia as current president of the EU made it probable that these targets would remain.

He quoted Article 11 of the current compromise agreement that states:

"By 2020, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households, shall be increased to a minimum of overall 50% by weight."

He then exclusively revealed the current wording of how the UK will interpret this clause:
"The UK intends to apply to the totality of household waste the requirement to increase, by 2020, to a minimum of overall 50% by weight, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials from households and, possibly, similar waste streams. The four waste streams specified in paragraph 2(a) of Article [8a] (i.e. paper, metal, plastic and glass) would be included in that overall target where they originate from households but the 50% target would not apply individually to each of the specified wastes."

This would mean that although each of these four materials would not individually require a 50% municipal re-use or recycling rate, overall the total contribution of each material would have to lead to meeting the 50% target.

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