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MEPs insist on higher recycling targets

Eu parliament vote 2

MEPs have backed the call from the European Parliament’s environment committee to stiffen recycling targets proposed by the European Commission in its circular economy (CE) package.

The original proposals in the package 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 January, the environment committee (pictured) backed 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 committee also wants 5% of municipal waste to be prepared for reuse or repaired. It also cut the proposed amount of municipal waste going to landfill from 10% to 5% and inserted a higher packaging recycling target of 80%, both by 2030.

MEPs want the measurement to be at the point materials go to final recycling. The Commission, supported by the Environmental Services Association and its European partner Fead, preferred to use the stage at which materials are sorted.

The headline figures on recycling rates are less important than the trajectory and degree of ambition

Ray Georgeson, Resource Association

They argue that dry recyclable materials can be sorted several times and may be handled by a number of intermediaries before the final recycling stage.

The amended CE package will now go back to the Commission and be considered by ministers from member states on the council.

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson welcomed the votes but cautioned about divergence on the metrics.

“The headline figures on recycling rates are less important than the trajectory and degree of ambition. While debate remains unresolved on the harmonisation of the point of calculation of recycling rates, the headline figure is the wrong point upon which to assess the importance of the European Parliament’s proposals,” he said.

”We maintain the view that recycling should be calculated at the point where materials go for final recycling. If the Commission and council ultimately find they cannot cope with the logic of this position, they at the very least should do the decent thing and reframe the description of their headline recycling targets as what they actually are – collection targets, not recycling targets.

”This is a level of transparency and integrity we would welcome.”

Other reaction

Gerd Götz, director general of European Aluminium:

”We hope that all institutions recognise the importance of adopting a harmonised approach for measuring recycling rates. It would allow the EU to measure what is actually recycled rather than simply collected or sorted.

”However, we are disappointed that the European Parliament was not more ambitious regarding scrap exports and its treatment outside of Europe. Recycling more does not mean recycling at any cost. When valuable resources – such as aluminium scrap – are exported outside the EU, it is imperative that it is recycled according to equivalent environmental, health and safety standards as those applied by recyclers in Europe.”

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