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MEPs push Commission on resource efficiency

The European Parliament (EP) has called on the Commission to adopt strong resource efficiency laws after backing a report that proposes binding recycling targets.

The Commission is set to release its revised circular economy (CE) package this autumn, following two public consultations currently underway.

Its original proposals, scrapped last December, included binding targets of 70% recycling of municipal solid waste and 80% for packaging waste by 2030 for all member states.

Now, the Resource Efficiency: moving towards a circular economy report, which calls on the Commission to adopt increased recycling targets to “at least” the levels set out in the scrapped proposals, has passed a plenary vote after previously being adopted by the EP’s environment committee.

MEP

The report, from committee rapporteur Sirpa Pietikäinen (left), also urges the Commission to propose a target to increase resource efficiency by 30% by 2030 compared with 2014 levels, as well as individual targets for each member state.

This target would be voluntary and not legally binding as it had been in the original proposals. It wants such targets to be underpinned by indicators.

The report was approved by 394 votes to 197. There were 82 abstentions, including all UK Conservative MEPs.

Conservative Julie Girling told MRW before the vote: “I support the aims of the report, but I think it is too prescriptive.”

Earlier, the Guardian reported it had seen a Government position paper on recycling which said: “We feel that a greater emphasis needs to be given to other measures such as voluntary agreements with industry and incentives to reward behavioural changes.”

The report calls for a binding reduction in landfill, leading to a full ban, for all materials except certain hazardous and residual waste.

It also calls on the Commission to promote conventions in member states to enable the retail sector to distribute unsold food to charities.

Pietikäinen said: “This is a systemic change that we are facing as well as a huge, hidden business opportunity. It can be created only by helping a new business ecosystem to emerge.

“We need a set of indicators and targets and a review of existing legislation, as it fails to incorporate the value of ecosystem services. We need a broadening of the scope of the ecodesign plan, a renewal of the waste directive and a special focus on areas like sustainable buildings.”

Commission first vice-president Frans Timmerman said at the start of the plenary session: “The future of the European economy is in the circular economy, in reusing, in putting things back into the economic cycle, in thinking in terms of cradle to cradle.”

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