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UK rejects tougher EU waste targets

The Government’s response to a European Commission (EC) consultation has strongly opposed any change to 2020 targets under the Waste Framework Directive or to extend EU landfill bans for specific materials.

The EC launched a consultation on European waste management targets in June.

The UK Government’s response, which has not been published on the Defra website but has been circulated to ‘stake-holders’, argues that member state “not on course” to meet existing 2020 targets should be helped rather than work to new ones.

It argued against setting “new environmental targets, including targets on waste prevention and reuse” and called for reducing “heavy regulatory approaches” and “burdens on businesses”.

Extending landfill bans or restricting specific materials at an EU-level or changing Waste Framework Directive targets or definitions would not work and could result in “perverse or unintended outcomes”, it said.

But the Government’s position relates directly only to England, as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have adopted a different stance.

The document said the response was on behalf of the UK Government, not the UK.

It said: “There are differing approaches to strategies for managing waste across the UK, as this is an issue managed at the level of the individual countries. The current EU structure allows flexibility for each administration to set their own targets, based on the best outcome for their regions and the needs of their electorate.

“At lower regional levels, some English local authorities have introduced their own targets to limit landfill and increase recycling.

“The UK’s devolved administrations have been consulted in developing this position paper, although this should be considered a UK Government, not UK, response.”

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