The European Council and the European Parliament agreed key elements of the circular economy (CE) package on 18 December. Here CIWM chief executive Colin Church sets out the organisation’s response.
”It is, as expected, a compromise. But this headline agreement does provide the basis for improvement in some important areas, including separate collection of biowaste, stronger implementation of the waste hierarchy, provisions to restrict single-use plastics and minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility schemes.
”The certainty provided to the sector from recycling targets – whatever you think of the level – is welcome, although the implications of the method of calculation will need to be worked through. Achieving even 65% by 2035 will require strong action on demand-side measures to stimulate secondary material markets – a challenge that the UK Government seems finally to be acknowledging.
And perhaps a bright spot on the Brexit horizon might be an opportunity for the UK to devise smarter, impact-based national targets that are focused on delivering better environmental outcomes beyond simple tonnage.
”Those who are disappointed not to see stronger action on reuse and waste prevention should also take heart. These imperatives are moving up the agenda thanks to a host of campaigns, initiatives and media attention, with issues such as ocean plastics stealing headlines on an almost daily basis.
”There are unilateral steps that EU members can take outside the CE package. Last year, for example, Spain became the first European country to set a separate and binding national reuse target and Scotland broke new ground by setting a target to cut a third of all food waste in the country by 2025.
”The more responsible producers and retailers are coming to the table, and Michael Gove’s announcement this week that he wants to cut the total amount of plastic in circulation and reduce the number of different plastics in use shows that Westminster may also be planning to act in this space.”