The challenge of recycling materials that contain harmful substances is being investigated by the European Commission.
The move was announced by EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella at a conference held in Brussels to review progress more than a year after the launch of the Commission’s circular economy (CE) package.
Vella said the CE was “fast becoming reality”.
“We need maximum political buy-in from all sectors of society … and I see more and more proof that this buy-in has become a reality. Not just inside the institutions and among planners, but across the board. Companies, local and regional administrations, NGOs and individuals are making plans to adapt.”
He set out planned developments this year in terms of plastics, water reuse and links between chemicals, products and waste legislation.
“One of the barriers to better recycling is the presence of harmful substances in the goods we manufacture,” Vella said. “Recyclers need to be sure of what is in there, and citizens need to be able to trust the results.
”So we will be revisiting the existing standards, and looking at steps that will help recyclers and give citizens the assurances they deserve.”
Plastics, he said, were such an important part of our lives that we treated them as a disposable resource, polluting the oceans and using up precious supplies.
“The new strategy will help us rethink our whole approach, from where plastics come from to what we do with them in the end.”
Vella also said 2017 would see more technical measures, including a monitoring framework to check progress towards the CE.
“This will build on a number of tools that are already in place. It will also help us see how we are doing as we move towards the sustainable development goals,” he added.