A suite of new EU laws to turn waste into gold

The march towards a circular economy in Europe stepped up a gear today as rules to reduce waste and clean up products reached a new stage of EU law-making.

Laws to cut food waste, curb packaging and clean up marine litter are being fine-tuned by a European Parliament hungry to raise ambition in these areas. Measures to tackle controversial subjects like planned obsolescence and toxic components in products are also likely to become law in the coming years.

These are vital steps towards a circular economy with an estimated 860,000 new jobs, more consumer spending power and a vastly cleaner environment.

Today the Italian Socialist lead MEP Simona Bonafè releases a draft report that hints at the stand Parliament will take when negotiating the final text with national governments.

The report does a good job raising ambition and clarity of rules first penned by the European Commission. But weak aspects could see millions of tonnes of useful material burned or buried each year. Bonafè’s report is the basis for the vote in November. Her Environment committee colleagues will now be preparing amendments ahead of a vote, expected in November. There will then be a vote in the full Parliament expected early in 2017.

 

The good and the bad

So how good are Bonafè’s suggestions for the Waste Framework Directive, Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and Landfill Directive?

Waste prevention (Art 9)

– food waste cut in half by 2030. This is only an aspirational target. Also, it is EU-wide so harder to enforce.
– marine litter reduced by half by 2030, also an EU wide target
– reduce hazardous substances in products through better traceability
– discourage planned obsolescence so products do not deliberately break
– less waste from commerce and service sectors
– prevent littering by discouraging single use products, such as disposable cutlery
– reduce excessive and toxic packaging
– promotion of deposit schemes to encourage reuse of packaging, like bottles
– more support for product repair
– a beefed up Ecodesign Directive so it covers all main products, including non-energy ones like construction materials, bio-based chemicals, textiles and furniture. These should incorporate mandatory resource efficiency features, e.g. more recycled content and better durability

Waste collection
Bonafè wants mandatory separate collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass, clarifying the Commission’s legal text to help ensure high quality recovery of useful materials. This has been extended to other waste streams, such as wood, textile and biowaste. (Art 11§1 and Art 22§1). Bonafe has extended a ban on the landfilling of separated waste to prevent this ending up in an incinerator (art 10§2a).

Reuse & recycling
– Repair & recycling targets for 2030 pushed to 70%, packaging waste to 80%
– Single methodology for calculating targets, down from 4 in today’s rules. This is important to gain an accurate picture to better identify problems and opportunities.
– At least 65% of all biowaste composted by 2025
– On the downside, a single target confuses waste that can be recycled with waste that can be reused. Two targets are needed to get the most value out of each.
– Also, Article 11a could let poorly performing countries off the hook by allowing them to request a derogation. This will only widen the gap between countries with advanced waste policies and those lagging behind. Derogation should be based on something else, for example on the total waste generated (below certain cap) or residual waste generated (below a certain cap).

Further reading / links

  • European Environmental Bureau circular economy position paper
  • 10 key steps to a circular economy in Europe, cheat sheet
  • MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen’s own initiative report that set the scene for today’s report
  • MEP Simona Bonafè’s draft report

Contacts
EEB Waste policy officer Piotr Barczak / @Pbarczak

 

Image credit: thanks UNEP

By | 2017-04-27T15:17:11+00:00 June 2nd, 2016|0 Comments