A group of NGOs have called on the EU to implement a 10-step programme to help deliver a more resource efficient Europe and to deliver a circular economy.
The group, comprised of European Environment Bureau, Zero Waste Europe, Seas at Risk, Rreuse, Ecos, Greenpeace, the Surfrider Foundation and Friends of the Earth Europe, says that the EU must “use a broad mix of legal and economic instruments… as part of an ambitious package when it proposes its review of waste policy next month.” This includes increasing the recycling target for municipal solid waste to 70%; introducing binding waste prevention targets including one for food waste prevention; banning landfilling and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste; and promoting extended producer responsibility and resource taxation schemes.
Piotr Barczak, Policy Officer for Waste at the European Environment Bureau (EEB) said: “The review of waste policy is an opportunity to set Europe on a path towards resource efficiency. The EU depends on imports for most of its valuable materials, yet many of these end up in landfills and incinerators. This is not just a missed opportunity, it is pure folly.”
The 10 Steps
The 10 steps identified by the group are:
- Set a binding EU material reduction target based on the Total Material Consumption indicator.
- Set a zero residual waste target (the waste that is not re-used or recycled) by 2025.
- Introduce binding waste prevention targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste at the European and national levels.
- Set preparation for reuse targets for municipal solid waste and packaging, with targets for – at a minimum – textiles and furniture, based on the weight of material per capita put back on the market by approved re-use centres. The targets must not be combined with recycling.
- Increase recycling targets to at least 70% of municipal solid waste, using only one harmonised methodology for all Member States to report on, based on the recycling output. Set an overall packaging recycling target at 80% and boost plastic packaging recycling to at least 75%.
- Set a binding quantitative marine litter reduction target of 50% with an explicit definition of litter included in waste legislation, in recognition of the serious negative impacts on the marine environment.
- Introduce obligatory separate collection of waste by 2020, in particular for biowaste from homes and the hospitality sector as well as separate collection for materials including paper, cardboard, metals and textiles.
- Promote economic instruments that support the full implementation of the waste hierarchy, such as extended producer responsibility, pay-as-you-throw schemes and the taxation of resources where appropriate.
- Design out single-use, non-recyclable products and toxic materials such as microplastics and oxo-fragmentable plastics.
- Ban landfill and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste. Ban the financing of incinerators and landfills via structural and cohesion funds.
The statement was issued ahead of Clean Up Europe Day, which takes place tomorrow (Saturday 10 May), when citizens from across the European continent can take part in a day of action to clean up their neighbourhoods.
Barczak added: “These initiatives show us the scale of the problem we are facing. But the real way to fight waste is not to generate so much of it in the first place. And that can only happen if the EU is ambitious enough in its review of waste policy and includes stringent prevention, reuse and recycling targets.”