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EU urges UK action on producer responsibility

Karmenu vella eir launch

The European Commission has urged the UK to improve the performance of its producer responsibility schemes but praised the work of WRAP and the establishment of the Green Investment Bank (GIB).

In its UK-specific report as part of the Environmental Implementation Review, the Commission picks out recycling as the “main opportunity” it could improve, noting Britain already has a good knowledge base and good practices.

It also credits WRAP’s strategy for businesses, organisations and consumers to be part of a resource revolution as a basis for ”making further progress on waste and resource efficiency”.

The GIB, currently being privatised, is noted as a “point of excellence” along with the UK’s work on green public procurement.

But the report is more critical of the UK’s “limited” extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, which it says include few waste streams and do not cover the full processing costs.

It suggests improving the performance of EPR schemes covering the main waste streams to ensure appropriate and sustainable funding of separate collections, sorting and recycling.

The use of economic instruments such as pay-as-you-throw to boost recycling is also suggested.

The report says such proposals would promote prevention, make reuse and recycling more economically attractive, and shift reusable and recyclable waste away from incineration.

The report also recommends the UK phase out landfilling of recyclable and recoverable waste.

“Use revenues from economic instruments to support the separate collection and alternative infrastructure,” it suggests.

More broadly across the EU, the review suggests waste prevention remains an important challenge for all member states, with six not managing to limit the landfilling of biodegradable municipal waste.

The reports will be followed by discussions with each member state, the launch of a peer-to-peer tool to allow countries to share expertise, and political debates in the environment council.

Environment commissioner Karmenu Vella (pictured) said: “The European Commission is committed to helping member states make sure that the quality of their citizens’ air, water and waste management is of the highest standard. This review provides the information, the tools and the timetable to do this.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The EU would do well to resist the lobbying of the waste industry - the Energy from Waste Industry in particular if it is to give a rational steer for the EU to move in the direction of a sustainable circular economy - which is what its headline policies indicate it wants to encourage.

    A moment's thought should be sufficient to realise that whilst waste, and waste destruction, exists neither a sustainable nor a circular economy is achievable. The exhortations to total waste elimination by product and system design, re-use, repair, recycling, composting/AD is the way forward as many municipalities in the EU are demonstrating -mostly those that have sincerely adopted a Zero Waste Strategy. Talk of investment in incineration is lazy talk - surely if the only option we embrace is to burn instead of to bury our mixed materials (waste) then we really do lack imagination. The only people really interested in burning are those selling fires or fuel -always for profit of course. A zero waste strategy and implementation plan - as being carried out in Wales for example - is the right path.

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