The UK’s representative in the European Council said that recycling targets in the EU Commission’s recently released circular economy (CE) package are not achievable.
Proposals including mandatory recycling targets for all member states of 65% municipal waste and 75% packaging waste by 2030 were put forward by the Commission on 2 December.
Industry figures have criticised the Commission for lowering these targets by 5% from proposals that were withdrawn last year.
But now the UK’s representative in Europe has called for even lower targets, at the package’s first discussion in the EU environment council, saying they are “too high to be achievable”.
UK deputy permanent representative to the EU Shan Morgan said: “We have some concern about the role of targets here.
“We still believe they are too high to be achievable. The overall suite of targets may be too complex and differentiated targets are unfair.”
Morgan welcomed some of the CE package proposals, including funding to encourage business innovation.
But she also recommended that the Commission should include a headline figure on the potential increase in EU GDP that the package may offer.
She said: “We do feel the action plan does not sufficiently draw out potential benefits in terms of jobs and growth from the CE.”
EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella responded by saying he had “noted” all the comments made, including Morgan’s.
Ahead of the discussion, the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) also called for more “ambition” from the Commission on job creation in its CE proposals.
EPSU secretary general Jan Willem Goudriaan said: “It is disappointing to see a package that does not integrate the [Commission’s] Green Employment policies.
“We welcome the Commission’s recognition that the transition to a CE will require a qualified workforce and social dialogue, but the lack of any concrete proposals to protect workers from low-skilled and low-wage employment and poor health and safety standards is of serious concern to trade unions.”
The Commission has called on the European Parliament and Council to prioritise adoption and implementation of the proposals, expected to be 18 months from now.