The European Commission has announced that it has adopted proposals, including a landfill ban for recyclable materials, to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling.
The new waste targets for European Union members call for 70 percent of municipal waste and 80 percent of packaging waste to be recycled by 2030, and the ban of burying recyclable waste in landfills starting in 2025. Also included was a proposal for the reduction of marine litter.
Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “We are living with linear economic systems inherited from the 19th Century in the 21st Century world of emerging economies, millions of new middle class consumers, and inter-connected markets. If we want to compete we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste.
“Moving to a circular economy is not only possible, it is profitable, but that does not mean it will happen without the right policies. The 2030 targets that we propose are about taking action today to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and exploiting the business and job opportunities it offers.”
PlasticsEurope, a leading European trade organization, has welcomed the move to end the landfilling of all recyclable waste including plastics in Europe.
“The examples of those Member States which have already successfully phased out landfilling show that a legislative decision is needed to trigger the necessary investments in recycling and energy recovery of valuable resources like plastics,” said Karl-H. Foerster, executive director of PlasticsEurope.
However the organization points out that the Commission is moving away from the original deadline of 2020 set in the 7th Environmental Action Programme. Foerster said: “We would have liked to see a more ambitious approach to support our target of Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2020”.
PlasticsEurope says that it supports the Commision's efforts to increase the reliability of waste data through the EU, using a harmonized calculation method, but Foerster said he was worried that “Switching from an input to an output-based calculation and increasing targets at the same time will drive plastics recyclers to focus even more on quantity versus quality, thus jeopardizing the potential environmental benefits of recycling.”
PlasticsEurope also stated its enthusiasm for the Commision's proposal for an EU reduction on beach litter
“Marine Litter is a global problem which requires global actions,” said Foerster. “Our Global Action Plan, launched in 2011, today contains over 180 industry led projects for solutions to marine litter.”
The European Commission's legislative proposals will now pass on to the Council and the European Parliament.