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UK manufacturers criticise recycling targets

UK manufacturers’ association the EEF has criticised EU recycling targets, saying they are “too prescriptive”.

It said that remanufacturers were unlikely to get on board with the European Commission’s circular economy (CE) package, currently being discussed in the EU Parliament after being tabled by the Commission last December, without more clear business advantages.

Meanwhile a review of the package by the Parliament’s thinktank has criticised its impact assessment for covering only waste targets.

The UK currently has a recycling target of 50% household waste by 2020, driven by European directives, which it is struggling to achieve.

A more ambitious target of 65% household waste and 75% packaging waste by 2030 has been proposed, with less stringent targets for the worst performing member states.

EEF climate, energy and environment policy head Claire Jakobsson told MRW the organisation is closely reviewing the Commission’s proposals but had some concerns.

She said: “I think recycling targets are too prescriptive as they encourage only recycling, and we should look at simplifying regulation to support remanufacturing and symbiosis more widely if we are to realise the true potential of a CE.”

A review of the package by the Parliament thinktank makes similar criticism of the package for remaining too focused on waste targets.

“It does not seek to go further in ‘exploring synergies with other policies’ – one of the reasons […] for the withdrawal of the original proposal.”

However, the review praised the package for taking “sufficient account of the different situations of the member states and their capacity to perform in the future”.

Jakobsson described the CE in a recent blog as an “opportunity to change the market for consumer goods indefinitely”.

Changing the mainstream perception of remanufactured products so they are not seen as second-hand inferior items, she said, was important.

“This happens already in the automotive sector, when engines and parts can be reconditioned to be as new once more, in chemical processes, and to a degree in healthcare,” she said.

But Jakobsson doubted whether the industry would be able to incorporate CE principles without financial incentives.

“There is still a long way to go before manufacturers can buy into this idea as a business opportunity, particularly in an increasingly uncertain and competitive environment,” she said.

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