Three trade bodies have urged EU officials to agree a single method for calculating recycling rates, ahead of key talks on the future of the circular economy (CE) package.
Negotiations between member states, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament over the terms of the package are to start on 30 May. This will include proposed recycling rate targets.
Under current EU rules, member states can use one of four calculation methods to work out their recycling rate. The UK currently uses “the preparation for reuse and the recycling of household waste”. Other allowed calculations can be based on waste collected or sorted.
The three bodies – Eurometaux, Eurofer and the Confederation of European Paper Industries (Cepi) – say that establishing a common measurement should be a top priority in order to boost investment and improve recycling quality.
Guy Thiran, director general of Eurometaux, representing the non-ferrous metals sector, said: “Until we have a common method to measure how much of our waste gets recycled, it doesn’t matter whether the EU’s headline recycling target is 65% or 70%.
“EU negotiators need to make a strong calculation method their top priority. We can only gauge the realism and ambition of recycling targets once we know what member states will be measuring.”
Axel Eggert, director general of steel association Eurofer, said: “Every institution has now acknowledged that member states need to start calculating recycling rates at the same point, which is not the case under present legislation.
“However, the Parliament has been the only institution to propose the right solution: a single measure without derogation. The worst possible outcome is one where we are left with a permanent loophole that allows member states to circumvent requirements.”
Cepi director general Sylvain Lhote said: “Making the CE happen in Europe means we must be able to measure the actual recycling rate.
”This will allow better targeting of investment where it matters most – better systems of collection and sorting that enhance the quality and quantity of what is recycled which in turn boost industry development.”
The Council of the EU has already set out its priorities for the talks, which include definitions of waste, how to set and calculate binding targets, end-of-waste criteria, extended producer responsibility schemes and waste prevention.