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Concern EU will ‘water down’ recycling targets

Environmental organisations have lobbied members of the European Council to retain proposed recycling targets, following accusations that it is trying to “water down” draft legislation.

The Council, as well as the European Parliament, are currently discussing circular economy (CE) proposals published by the European Commission in December last year.

Suggested legislation in the CE package includes recycling targets of 65% municipal waste and 75% packaging waste by 2030.

The Parliament’s environment committee, which is expected to agree its position by January, is likely to support the Commission’s targets and has even discussed raising them by five percentage points.

But according to a campaigning group of organisations, including the Aldersgate Group, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Green Alliance, the Environment Council has held less positive talks about the proposals.

“Discussions in the Environment Council have included suggestions that the targets should be watered down or even abandoned, with one leaked paper implying that more work is needed to test the methodology before any targets are adopted,” said the EEB.

The campaign group has written to all 28 EU environment ministers, including Laszlo Solymos (pictured) from Slovakia, who is currently holding the EU presidency.

The letter to Solymos, signed by Green Alliance acting director Leah Davis, says: “The Environment Council was united in welcoming the Commission’s proposals on the CE earlier this year.

“The case for action remains clear and compelling. It is now important that the Council reaches a position which reflects its support for the CE, including binding and ambitious recycling targets.”

Once the Council and the Parliament have decided their positions, an agreement between the two must be reached before the proposals can become legislation.

Since the UK’s vote to leave the EU, there has been uncertainty over whether the CE package will be transposed into UK law.

Before the vote, Defra expressed the opinion that the proposed recycling targets were unachievable. But resources minister Therese Coffey has said that current environmental laws which were transposed from EU legislation will remain after Brexit.

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