Achieving Any Recycling Target “Unlikely” Unless Market Prices Addressed

Steve-Lee-no-cut-out-wide-webAchieving any recycling rate – 65% or 70% – is “unlikely” unless the issue of market prices and volatility, which are hampering recycling rates, is addressed, CIWM’s chief executive Steve Lee has said.

In a statement responding to the European Parliament’s Environment Committee draft report proposing amendments to the EU waste directives under the Circular Economy Package (CEP), CIWM’s chief executive Steve Lee says the ambition and emphasis needs to be on reducing waste and improving the quality of recycling.

He said it is important that these are not sacrificed in the charge for ever higher “headline” targets.

The Committee yesterday called for stronger requirements for the separate collection of recyclables, through EU Circular Economy laws, on top of those put forward by the European Commission in its CEP.

“At present, market prices and volatility are hampering recycling rates and any recycling target, be it 65 or 70%, is unlikely to be attainable unless we address this issue”

It proposed a 70% municipal recycling target by 2030, which is up 5% compared to the 65% proposed in the CEP published last year.

It also proposed a final target of 70% by 2025 and 80% by 2030 for packaging recycling, an increase of 5%, and called for a target of 25% by 2025 for the reduction of landfill.

MEPs will now consider whether to adopt the proposals.

Lee said: “There are some very welcome elements in this report, including the strong focus on improving definitions, measurement and data, and the development of robust indicators. Without a consistent and equitable EU-wide framework for performance measurement and reporting, any targets and aspirations fall at the first hurdle.

“While welcoming the more visible ambition on waste prevention, CIWM does believe that more work is needed on the interrelationship between the different objectives and drivers proposed to move waste up the hierarchy. More waste prevention, the roll out of extended producer responsibility, the amended definition of the point of recycling and the removal of TEEP from the separate collection requirement could all have a significant impact on current practices and recycling rates.

“They also have the potential to introduce counterproductive tensions into the system. The ambition and emphasis needs to be on reducing waste and improving the quality of recycling, and it is important that these are not sacrificed in the charge for ever higher ‘headline’ targets.

“On recycling in particular, however, CIWM is pleased to see a new proposal for Member States to ‘make use of regulatory and economic instruments in order to incentivise the uptake of secondary raw materials.’ This is something that CIWM and others have repeatedly called for to ensure that the value proposition for recycling is robust and can support the policy objectives in the Circular Economy package.

“At present, market prices and volatility are hampering recycling rates and any recycling target, be it 65 or 70%, is unlikely to be attainable unless we address this issue.”

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