Reducing the use of landfill to feature in EU circular package

Early indications from Brussels regarding the Circular Economy package ‘mark 2’ suggest that it will contain a big focus on reducing the use of landfill.

Features of the revised circular economy package are due to be unveiled by the Commission in December.

Alongside the measures to reduce landfill there will be a push for more energy recovery but slightly less emphasis on recycling. The overall recycling target is likely to be reduced from the 70% rate proposed in last year’s package, partly because this is seen as unrealistic for a number of EU member states.

The proposals, currently under preparation, are due to be unveiled by the Commission before Christmas 2015.

The overall recycling target is likely to be cut and there could be more specific targets for different member states with a requirement for them to report “year by year increases at a prescribed rate”.

This is because there is recognition in Brussels of the need to tackle “existing problems of non-compliance with existing legislation”.

Compliance Manager at GPT Waste, Tony Baker commented:

As more and more EfW facilities are built, commissioned and compete for waste derived fuel there could ultimately be a detrimental effect on the amount of recyclable waste being extracted and presented to processors both at source and from the Materials Recycling Facilities.

There will be a temptation to avoid expensive separation and segregation methods in favour of RDF production. The predicted shift in emphasis from the Commission regarding energy recovery would seem to reflect what is actually happening in the UK waste market already.”

So far, on the new package, the Commission has officially said:

“The new strategy will include a new legislative proposal on waste targets, taking into account the input already given to us during public consultations, and by Council and in Parliament, in particular the comments made by many that the previous proposals needed to be more country-specific.”

The first package was adopted in July 2014 by the Commission and included a legislative proposal for the review of waste legislation. The latter specifically was in response to the legal obligation to review the targets of three Directives: the Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive, and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.

In its 2015 Work Programme, the Commission announced the intention to withdraw the 2014 proposal on Waste Review (the withdrawal was finalised on 25 February 2015 and to replace it with a new, ‘more ambitious’ proposal by the end of 2015 to promote the circular economy.

The original package, which was promoted in June 2014 by former EU environment commission Janez Potocnik, proposed new targets for recycling and landfill. These included 70% municipal recycling and 80% packaging waste recycling by 2030.

The landfill actions feature a ban on landfilling recyclables by 2025 and the virtually complete ban on landfilling by 2030.

References:

EU Circular Economy Roadmap

Let’s Recycle

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