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MEPs back higher recycling targets

Eu parliament vote 2

The European Parliament’s environment committee has voted to back higher recycling targets in the EU’s circular economy (CE) package.

In December 2015, the European Commission’s original proposals included a target of 65% for the preparation for reuse and recycling of municipal waste by 2030 and a 75% target for packaging waste.

In June 2016, the Parliament’s rapporteur for the package, Simona Bonafe, proposed higher targets for municipal waste of 70% by 2030, as well as a single harmonised calculation method across member states instead of the Commission’s suggested two.

The Parliament’s environment committee has now voted to back Bonafe’s proposals, which also require 5% of municipal waste produced by member states to be prepared for reuse or repaired.

Her draft law tightens the Commission’s limit on municipal waste to landfill by 2030 from 10% to 5% and a higher packaging target of 80% recycling by 2030.

Bonafe said: “The environment committee has showed that it believes in the transition towards a circular economy. We decided to restore the ambitious recycling and landfill targets in line with what the Commission had originally proposed in 2014.

“There will no longer be the possibility for member states with the lowest recycling rates to have a ‘blanket’ derogation. They will be able to request a derogation, but it will be subject to specific conditions.”

The report will now go to a full plenary vote on 13-16 March, when it will be adopted as the European Parliament’s position.

The European Council of Ministers, meanwhile, has yet to announce its position, although some stakeholders including the UK have been pushing for lower recycling targets.

Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau, welcomed the Parliament’s decision, saying the proposals could pave the way for more than 800,000 jobs to be created across Europe by 2030 if implemented.

He said: “For this boom to materialise, the council must now put the economy and the planet first and support these ambitious targets.”

The European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (Fead) welcomed the adoption of higher targets set by the Parliament, and the clarification of the definition on a final recycling process, but disputed the input into final recycling point as not always feasible.

It welcomed the committee’s position that definition of municipal waste will apply regardless of the public or private status of the operator.

However, the organisation regretted that the quantity criterion for waste type was not retained, which it said means there was not a clear distinction between municipal and trade waste.

Fead’s statement reads: “There is a huge risk for municipal waste to be broadened, thereby including the collection and treatment of larger quantities of commercial and industrial waste to be financed by taxpayers’ money.

“Fead members are confident that this mistake can and will be rectified during the plenary vote.”

It also welcomed that the committee has adopted a derogation allowing member states to exclude sparsely populated areas from providing separate collection.

Michal Len, director of European trade body Rreuse, said he was “delighted” the committee had voted for separate reuse targets, which also include a 3% goal for 2025.

He said: ”Separate targets would help ensure that at least some of the reuseable goods discarded at municipal waste sites would be saved, repaired or resold rather than recycled, buried or burned.

”Preparing for reuse activities boost jobs, a major factor behind the decision of the Spanish government to set a national target last year.”

Rreuse member the Furniture Reuse Network similarly welcomed the changes, saying “Where the directive initially wanted to deem all donated product as waste, now the directive is purely about product that is reused from the waste stream.”

Environment committee MEPs also set a target for member states to halve the amount of food wasted within the EU by 2030 but this target was only voluntary rather than binding.

Barczak said: “Halving the amount of food wasted within the EU by 2030 would cut greenhouse gas emissions, save households money and reduce the pressure on land exerted by Europe’s insatiable demand for food.

“Unfortunately, MEPs missed an opportunity to guarantee these rewards by not making them legally binding, potentially letting countries that waste large amounts of food off the hook.”

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