The European Union’s (EU) Committee of the Regions (CoR), which represents locally elected politicians from all member states in Brussels, has decisively agreed that Europe’s cities and regions must carefully balance ambition with realism when it comes to setting waste targets.
The CoR was asked by the EU to set out a path for the future in recognition of the numerous problems being tackled by overstretched local governments. The Committee responded by saying that the EU must remain aware of the differences between Europe’s local governments in terms of service, infrastructure and financial investment.
Kay Twitchen, CoR – “The UK is making progress to achieve this goal: the proportion of household waste sent for recycling has grown dramatically from 11 percent in 2001 to 43 percent in 2012″
The Committee’s members also agreed that there is a need for standardised measures and definitions on waste across the EU, as this will allow for clearer comparisons and ensure consistency.
Europe’s local and regional authorities also took a further step and agreed that certain targets could be met, with these proposals being backed by the Committee:
- reduce 2010 levels of waste by 10 percent by 2020
- consider raising the recycling of solid municipal waste target to 70 percent by 2025
- Subject all waste to selective sorting by 2020
- explore options to raise targets for recycling plastics to 70 percent and for glass, metal, paper, cardboard and wood to 80 percent
- prohibit the use of biodegradable waste for landfill by 2020. The “polluter pays” principle should be at the heart of plans, to reduce the financial burden.
Speaking in the Guardian, Chairman of Essex County Council and member of the EU’s CoR, Kay Twitchen, said: “European Union (EU) governments have committed to ensuring that 50 percent of all household and similar waste is recycled by 2020. The UK is making progress to achieve this goal: the proportion of household waste sent for recycling has grown dramatically from 11 percent in 2001 to 43 percent in 2012.
“This is encouraging, but we still lag behind our European neighbours – Austria tops the table with 63 percent followed closely by Germany at 62 percent. However, it is clear that by setting tangible objectives and taking a stick-and-carrot approach to managing our rubbish, we are making headway.
“Future plans must avoid hitting those who are already struggling to keep up. Instead, the right level of support must be given to those authorities that need it, coupled with an understanding of why there is noncompliance.”
It is expected that the European Commission will publish new waste targets at some point in 2014.