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Circular economy package 'ready by early autumn'

A senior Brussels official has given a more specific timetable for the EU’s ‘ambitious’ circular economy package due later this year.

Karl Falkenberg

Karl Falkenberg, left, director general of environment at the European Commission (EC), was speaking at a conference in Brussels organised by the new Euric recyclers’ association and the European Bureau for Conservation and Development, indicated that proposals would be ready by October.

“We said originally that we would table the proposals before the end of 2015. Pressure from the European Council and Parliament has led us to work towards an agenda of tabling it sometime in early autumn,” he said.

Falkenberg confirmed that a ‘road map’, setting out procedures and the EC’s general thinking, would be published next month, ahead of three months of consultation.

Although he said he did not have detailed ideas to discuss, his view was that the original proposed target of 70% recycling by 2030 was unlikely to survive.

“One of the things beginning to emerge is that the commission is making a distinction between targets that may be easy to decide but the reality in the 28 member states is that the [chances of] implementation can be questioned.

“The current target of 50% recycling by 2020 is not going to be achieved in at least half of the member states.”

Another EC speaker at the event, Carlo Pettinelli, a director dealing with the internal market, said the new package had to reflect the different positions of the various member states.

“There will be different incentives and market-based measures – this is very important. The emphasis will be on investment, growth and jobs.” He ruled out subsidies or “other reliance on taxpayers’ money”.

Pettinelli said the single market was the EU’s biggest asset in tackling waste, so eliminating barriers to that market would be the first step.

He said secondary materials were sometimes “penalised” when in competition with primary materials and added – without further clarification – “we are looking at how we can kick off the markets”.

  • Asked for an official response over Falkenberg’s timeline, a spokeswoman for the EC said: “The commission remains committed to submitting a new package before the end of the year, and that work is ongoing to prepare a submission for public consultation in May-July, after which the commission services will finalise the new package”.

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