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Wider support for Brussels EU-wide recycling targets - COMMENT UPDATE

European Parliament Environment Committees (EC) support for EU-wide recycling targets has been welcomed by The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Larac and Friends of the Earth (FoE) (April 9 2008, mrw.co.uk).

EEB's waste policy officer Nathalie Cliquot said: "Were thrilled to see positive results from our long campaign to attain strong but achievable targets on waste prevention and recycling. EU-level targets will give a true sense of direction to all member States, and create drivers for investments in resource efficient systems.

By supporting targets, separate collection and recycling of biowaste and oils, MEPs have taken another step toward creating the link between good waste management and better resource efficiency."

Larac spokeswoman Joy Blizzard said: Weve tended to welcome such targets because they give recycling the importance it deserves. So we welcome the European targets as long as they're properly funded.

FoE Europe spokesman Michael Warhurst said: "The climate and resource efficiency benefits of these recycling and prevention targets are substantial it is now time for EU Member States to accept their importance so that they can become law. Citizens can help by contacting their
Environment Minister through www.loverecycling.eu."

However, the EC also approved the rebranding of certain municipal waste incinerators as recovery, which did not get a positive response from FoE. Warhurst said: "This re-branding of slightly less inefficient incinerators as recovery is misguided and counter-productive, and we would expect that any future review of this measure will result in its deletion."

Comment:

LARAC doesn't have any problem with the principle of mandatory minimum recycling targets. However we do have concerns about some of the details. The main issues are as follows:
 
1. The definition of "domestic waste", where there continues to be some debate because of the differences in the definitions of municipal waste between different European countries. The EP is currently leading a move to have this defined as "household and similar" waste. This could result in local authorities being given additional obligations to arrange for 50% of the commercial waste they collect to be recycled.  Unless the same targets were applied to commercial waste collected by private sector organizations, this would be an unfair additional target to set to local authorities, which already have far more targets to achieve than private sector organizations.
 
2. The question of "who pays". Very high recycling targets are expensive to achieve.  LARAC is involved in discussions with producer organizations and the major retailers over the funding of packaging waste collections to achieve recycling targets.  Producer Responsibility must do what it says, with producer organizations footing the bill for increasing recycling to achieve targets, not local authorities. This applies to the cost of better communications and public education about sustainable waste management as well as the collection systems needed.
 
LARAC also supports processes that can convert residual waste that can't be recycled into energy, provided that this is done with comparable thermodynamic efficiency to the best processes converting fossil fuels into energy. This is what the proposed new efficiency criteria in the draft Directive are intended to achieve.

Andrew Craig, policy officer, LARAC
14/04/08
 


 

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