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Vella says CE debate 'exceeding expectations'

The passage of the circular economy (CE) package through the EU Parliament and Council is said to be exceeding the expectations of the European Commission.

The observation from environment commissioner Karmenu Vella (pictured) follows concern from environmental groups that the Council – comprising ministers from the member states – was trying to water down the Commission’s original proposals, which were published last December.

A campaign group wrote to all 28 EU environment ministers this week encouraging them to maintain the proposed recycling targets of 65% municipal waste and 75% packaging waste by 2030 after fears the Council could scrap the targets altogether.

But at a speech in Brussels on 13 October, Vella said: “In some ways, [discussions in the Parliament and Council] are going better than we hoped.”

In June, the Council adopted conclusions on the package’s action plan, which Vella described as “a serious statement of intent”.

The measures to which he refers are on strengthening the Commission’s proposals on ecodesign and marine litter.

“On ecodesign, they ask the Commission to see which product groups could integrate aspects of resource efficiency into their design, above and beyond energy efficiency.

“This is a clear indication that the message on design is getting through, and that we will be able to draw on the experience of the ecodesign regulations and take them further.

“On marine litter, they request a ban on microplastics in cosmetics and similar initiatives on other products, which is more good news.”

Vella also said the Commission would publish its communication on energy-from-waste early next year.

He had previously said this communication would be issued this year, and would address how the technology can be optimised without compromising higher reuse and recycling rates and with regard to the waste hierarchy.

The European Parliament’s environment committee is expected to agree its position on the package by January. Unlike the Council, it has spoken positively about recycling targets, with rapporteur Simona Bonafe wanting them to be increased by five percentage points.

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