Coalition sets priorities to “transform EU waste policy”

The Prevent Waste Coalition has set out 10 priorities that it says will help “transform EU waste policy”.

By releasing these ten priorities to improve and further enforce EU policies on waste prevention, the Prevent Waste Coalition is calling on the new EU institutions to adopt “real, concrete measures that enable the prioritisation and implementation of effective waste prevention measures”.

Almost 90% of material resources used in the EU are currently lost after their first use, it says.

“This clearly shows the urgent need to accelerate and further develop a systemic transition towards a less resource-intensive and more circular economy,” it said in a statement.

The Waste Prevent Coalition is a coalition of seven European civil society organisations which advocate for the improvement and enforcement of EU policies on waste prevention and product design.

We strongly believe these ten demands should be translated into concrete measures in order to change the current paradigm away from waste management to resource management

It includes: ECOS; The European Environment Bureau; Healthcare Without Harm; Safe Food Advocacy Europe; Zero Waste Europe; Freidns of the Earth Europe; rreuse.

Pierre Condamine, waste policy officer at Zero Waste Europe, said:We strongly believe these ten demands should be translated into concrete measures in order to change the current paradigm away from waste management to resource management.

“Only by doing so we can ensure that the value of our resources is preserved in the economy for future generations.”

The coalition is calling on the European Commission’s next Circular Economy Action Plan, alongside the overarching European Green Deal, to “strictly adhere” to the EU waste hierarchy: putting prevention first, followed by reduced resource extraction, and circular product design – all cutting greenhouse gas emissions – therefore contributing to the EU’s decarbonisation objective.

“In order to achieve ambitious circularity and sustainability goals, the main priority of economic and environmental EU policies should be to incentivise waste prevention, change consumption habits, rethink business models and make them waste-free by design” added Condamine.


  1. Establish ambitious and binding waste prevention and reuse targets

A progressive 2030 roadmap following the principles of the EU waste hierarchy should be adopted, including a binding overall waste reduction target and a maximum cap expressed in kg/capita/year of residual waste. This should be complemented by binding targets and measures on the reuse of waste and products.

  1. Set mandatory food waste prevention target of 50% by 2030

All Member States should reach this target through effective measures covering all stages of the food supply chain, from harvesting to processing, from retail to consumer.

  1. Define comprehensive circular design requirements for all products

These requirements should ensure durability, reusability, repairability and recyclability of products made of non-toxic materials from sustainable sources. Repair should become the norm, giving consumers a right to repair their products.

  1. Ensure clean, safe and non-toxic material cycles

Zero-pollution and a non-toxic environment can only be achieved when substances of concern are prevented and phased out through stringent legislation, which is currently missing. These substances can only be avoided in both new and recycled products by ensuring that a public information system about substances present in materials, articles, products and waste is in place.

  1. Establish effective economic incentives for resource-saving strategies

National tax systems and financial incentives should promote reuse activities, e.g. by reduced VAT on repair activities and second-hand products and levies on single-use packaging, while ‘Pay-As-You-Throw’ stimulates households to produce less waste. At a higher level, the EU should stimulate public and private investments in circular activities high in the waste hierarchy and stop encouraging waste-to-energy.

  1. Prioritise waste prevention within Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes

All EPR schemes should support waste prevention by financing and promoting reuse of waste and products and using eco-modulation of fees to discourage non-circular products. Additionally, we encourage the extension of EPR systems as policy tools for other product groups (beyond packaging and WEEE), provided that all stakeholders – social economy actors, recyclers, civil society, consumer organisations, local authorities – are involved in designing those systems.

  1. Stimulate reusable packaging

The revision of the essential requirements for packaging under the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive should lead to ambitious legislation with a strong focus on design for reuse, toxic-free materials and, after a long useful lifetime, recyclability. EU policies should support the implementation of reuse systems, including refill systems and deposit return schemes and this should be facilitated by quantitative targets for reuse of packaging by the end of 2022.

  1. Control & limit global shipment of waste 

Waste should not be shipped to non-EU countries with less stringent regulations and inadequate recycling infrastructure. Instead, Europe should reuse and recycle its own waste as close to the source as possible, creating local employment. Strict enforcement of the new amendments to the Basel Convention is crucial.

  1. Set the right legal framework for chemical recycling

Clear definitions and requirements are needed to ensure that chemical recycling does not undermine more circular approaches higher in the waste hierarchy or lead to adverse environmental impacts. The input should be limited to degraded and contaminated plastics, never plastics coming from a separate collection, and the output limited to new plastics, not fuel.

  1. Phase-out of incineration

Europe must unlock the potential of waste prevention and circular economy activities by phasing out the existing capacity of waste incinerators (18) and putting a stop to the development of any new facilities across the EU. This is of utmost importance for improving separate collection efforts and ensuring the decarbonisation of the EU energy grid.

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