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FEAD warns circular economy could create supply without demand

The waste management industry has told the European Commission that binding targets and ‘pull’ measures will be essential to the success of the forthcoming circular economy (CE) package.

FEAD, which represents national waste management associations at EU level, said such measures were needed because current proposals would increase the supply of recycled materials without creating additional demand for them.

It said in a letter to Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans that proposals to ban recyclable waste from landfill by 2025, and to set a 70% recycling target for municipal waste by 2030, “would vastly increase the supply of secondary raw materials, but where will the demand for these additional materials come from?”

The letter called on the Commission to encourage demand through measures to require:

  • minimum recycled content for selected products
  • minimum green public procurement levels
  • eco-labelling to indicate recycled content and recyclability
  • lower or zero rate VAT on second-hand goods and products with recycled content

FEAD said that binding recycling and landfill diversion targets at EU level should be a central part of the revised CE package to give the private sector confidence for making business and investment decisions.

The targets should remain harmonised at EU level, with longer transition periods and additional support for some member states where necessary.

FEAD president David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez UK, said: “If I take my country as an example, without binding landfill diversion targets at EU level, progress towards higher recycling in the UK would not have reached the current level.”

In central and eastern European countries which still lagged far behind in recycling rates, “landfill reduction targets are a pre-requisite to foster the required investments in treatments higher up the waste hierarchy”, Palmer-Jones added in the letter.

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