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MEP's adopt new waste rules

On April 18, the European Parliament approved the package to update current waste management rules, including new targets for recycling, packaging and landfilling. The package is a key element of legislative proposals on waste, the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted by the European Commission on December 2, 2015. Following the vote by the Plenary of the European Parliament, the package will be submitted to the Council for final adoption.

MEP’s adopt new EU waste rules with no more than 10 percent of municipal waste generated going to landfill.

According to a statement, the agreement generally preserves the “ambition level” of the Commission’s initial proposal and “reconciles long-term targets with realities on the ground”. The new “ambitious recycling and landfilling targets” will boost the re-use of valuable material in waste and improve the way municipal and packaging waste is managed thus making the circular economy a reality.

It further strengthens the “waste hierarchy” by placing prevention, re-use, and recycling clearly above landfilling and incineration. The details of the new waste rules include the following increased recycling targets for municipal waste; 55 percent by 2025, 60 percent by 2030 and 65 percent by 2035 along with stricter rules for calculating recycling rates will help to better monitor real progress towards the circular economy.

New recycling targets for different waste streams:

By 2025   By 2030

  • All packaging              65%         70%
  • Plastic                             50%         55%
  • Wood                              25%         30%
  • Ferrous metals          70%         80%
  • Aluminium                   50%         60%
  • Glass                                70%         75%
  • Paper & cardboard  75%         85%

In addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic, new provisions for separate collection, including of bio-waste will boost the quality of secondary raw materials and their uptake. Hazardous household waste will have to be collected separately by 2022, bio-waste by 2023 and textiles by 2025.

MEP’s note that landfilling of waste makes “no sense” in a circular economy and can pollute water, soil, and air. By 2035 the amount of municipal waste landfilled must be reduced to 10 percent or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated.

The new legislation foresees more use of effective economic instruments and other measures in support of the waste hierarchy. Producers are given an important role in this transition through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes – meaning a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s lifecycle.

The new extended producer responsibility requirements will lead to better performance and governance of these schemes. A mandatory extended producer responsibility scheme has to be established for all packaging by 2025.

The new legislation will place a particular focus on waste prevention and introduce important objectives such as reducing food waste in the EU by 50 percent and halting marine litter with the aim to achieve the UN sustainable development goals in these areas.

Following the vote by the Plenary of the European Parliament, the package will be submitted to the Council for final adoption.

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