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Boost recycling, cut landfilling and curb food waste, European Parliament says

The share of waste to be recycled would rise to 70 percent by 2030, from 44 percent today, under draft legislation adopted on Tuesday. MEPs also want the “waste package” plans to limit the share of landfilling, which has a big environmental impact, to 5 percent and to deliver a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030. Parliament will now negotiate with Council of Ministers.

MEPs propose to limit the share of waste to be landfilled to 5 percent (photo courtesy AP Images/European Union-EP).

MEPs propose to limit the share of waste to be landfilled to 5 percent (photo courtesy AP Images/European Union-EP).

The share of waste to be recycled would rise to 70 percent by 2030, from 44 percent today, under draft legislation adopted on Tuesday. MEPs also want the “waste package” plans to limit the share of landfilling, which has a big environmental impact, to 5 percent and to deliver a 50 percent reduction in food waste by 2030. Parliament will now negotiate with Council of Ministers.

–Today, Parliament by a very large majority has showed that it believes in the transition towards a circular economy. We decided to restore the ambitious recycling and landfill targets in line with what the Commission had originally proposed in 2014, said lead MEP Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT).

Statistics for 2014 suggest that 44 percent of all municipal waste in the EU is recycled or composted. This compares to just 31 percent in 2004, and by 2020 EU member states should be recycling or composting over 50 percent of waste.

Although waste management in the EU has improved considerably in recent decades, almost a third of municipal waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted, with wide variations between member states. In 2014, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sent virtually no municipal waste to landfill, whereas Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Latvia and Malta still landfill over 75 percent of their municipal waste.

– Demand for raw materials by the world economy could increase by a further 50 percent in the next 15 years. In order to reverse this trend, we must adopt a circular development model which keeps materials and their value in circulation, the only solution able to keep together sustainability with economic growth, Bonafè said.

Waste and packaging waste

Improving waste management could deliver benefits for the environment, climate, human health and the economy. As part of a shift in EU policy towards a circular economy, the European Commission made four legislative proposals introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse, recycling and landfilling. The proposals also strengthen EU provisions on waste prevention and extended producer responsibility, and streamline definitions, reporting obligations and calculation methods for targets.

– Re-use, recycling and recovery are becoming the keywords around which a new paradigm needs to be built to promote sustainability, innovation, and competitiveness, so that waste will cease to be a problem and become a resource, said Bonafè.

By 2030, at least 70 percent by weight of so-called municipal waste (from households and businesses) should be recycled or prepared for re-use, (i.e. checked, cleaned or repaired), say MEPs. The European Commission proposed 65 percent.

  • Packaging materials – For packaging materials such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metal and wood, MEPs propose an 80 percent target for 2030, with interim 2025 targets for each material.
  • Landfilling – The draft law limits the share of municipal waste to be landfilled to 10 percent by 2030. MEPs propose reducing this to 5 percent albeit with a possible five-year extension, under certain conditions, for member states which landfilled more than 65 percent of their municipal waste in 2013.
  • Food waste – In the EU food waste is estimated at some 89 million tonnes, or 180 kg per capita per year. MEPs advocate an EU food waste reduction target of 30 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030, compared to 2014. They also propose a similar target for marine litter.

The four reports adopted on Tuesday represent Parliament’s negotiating position, ahead of negotiations with Council of ministers, which yet has to adopt its own position.

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