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The European Commission has presented a policy package that aims to start Europe moving towards a ‘circular economy’.


The circular economy centres on an economy that produces almost no waste and where products, materials, and other forms of value are reused or recycled.

The legislative proposal: Increased waste targets

Waste policies and targets are a key driver for shifting to a circular economy. Turning waste into a resource is an important part of increasing resource efficiency.  The Commission has presented a proposal for a Directive, which outlines new targets on waste recycling, simplifies the legislation and ensures better implementation of the waste legislation by member states.

The proposed directive reviews the waste management targets of three directives.

Key changes with regard to Directive 2008/98/EC on waste are the following:

“• Member states are requested to take appropriate waste prevention measures and reduce food waste by at least 30% between January 2017 and December 2025:

• by 1 January 2015 at the latest, recycling and preparing for re-use of municipal waste should be increased to a minimum of 70% by weight.

• An early warning system should be established. According to the Commission, this system should anticipate difficulties of member states to achieve targets and to advise and assist them in getting on tracks.”

Regarding Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging wastes, the main changes are:

“• A minimum of 60% by weight of all packaging waste should be prepared for re-use and recycled by 2020, 70% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

• The following minimum targets for preparing re-use and recycling should be met by 2020 for each of the following material contained in packaging waste: 45% of plastic, 50% of wood, 70% of ferrous metal, 70% of aluminium, 70% of glass and 85% of paper and cardboard; by 2025, this should reach 60% of plastic, 65% of wood, 80% of ferrous metal, 80% of aluminium, 80% of glass and 90% of paper and cardboard; by 2030 this should reach 80% of wood, 90% of ferrous metal, 90% of aluminium and 90% of glass.

• The Directive also provides provisions on an early warning system.”

Regarding Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste, the key changes are the following:

“• Landfilling of recyclable waste (including plastics, paper, metals, glass and biodegradable waste) should be banned by 2025.

• Landfilling of non-hazardous waste in a given year which exceeds 25% of the total amount of municipal waste generated in the previous year should be banned.

• The Directive also provides provisions on an early warning system.”

The Communication towards circular economy

A zero waste programme in Europe’ outlines the Commission’s approach to the circular economy and highlights how innovation, new business models, eco-design and industrial symbiosis can move towards a zero-waste economy and society.

A number of actions are set out by the commission in order to develop this circular economy.

These actions are focused on the following issues:

Simplifying waste legislation

In order to improve the implementation of waste legislation and to reduce current differences among member states, the Commission wants to:

“(a) address overlaps amongst waste targets and align definitions.

(b) Simplify reporting obligation for member states.

 (c) Allow member states to exempt SMEs or undertaking collecting and/or transporting very small quantities of non-hazardous waste from the general permit or registration requirements under the waste framework Directive.

 (d) Introduce annual reporting through a single entry point for all waste data.

 (e) Promote direct investment in waste management.”

Tackling specific waste management

In order to address particular waste challenges related to significant loss of resources or environmental impacts, the Commission aims to:

“(a) propose an aspirational target of reducing marine litter by 30% by 2020.

(b) Develop a common EU assessment framework for the environmental performance of buildings (see section 3).

(c) Propose that plastics are banned from landfilling by 2025

 (d) Develop a policy framework on phosphorus to enhance its recycling.”



Zerowaste Europe