The UK Government has responded to the European Commission consultation on the Review of European Waste Management Targets, opting for a decided “no” to new targets, changing 2020 targets and extending landfill bans.
The UK Government has made it clear that it would not support plans to change EU targets or definitions for 2020 set out in the Waste Framework Directive, nor would it support new environmental targets or extending landfill bans or restrictions for specific materials at an EU-level.
Responding to the European Commission’s consultation on reviewing European Waste Management Targets, the UK rejected changing EU-level targets for 2020, saying that waste management policy and delivery requires “stability and a long term direction of travel.”
The response stated that changes to targets “would be unlikely to improve the current system and could result in perverse or unintended outcomes”.
UK response – “The UK Government would support the Commission in focussing effort on assisting member states to extract the value from waste materials, with a view towards developing a circular economy”
It also said that the UK would only support extending landfill bans or restrictions for specific materials if there were a “clear economic and environmental case to do so”.
Member states are required to recycle or re-use 50 percent of household waste by 2020, recover 60 percent of packaging waste since 2008, and reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill by 2016, under current EU directives.
Instead of setting new targets, the UK said the Commission should find ways to “help member states implement existing targets before setting new targets”, referring to the fact that many member states are predicted to miss the 2020 targets.
“The UK Government would support the Commission in focussing effort on assisting member states to extract the value from waste materials, with a view towards developing a circular economy,” the UK response stated. “The European Commission should determine the barriers in existing legislation to re-use, recycling and recognising the value from waste products. For example, focussing on recyclate quality throughout the supply chain will help maximise the environmental and economic benefits of reprocessing raw materials.”
The UK Government recommended that the European Commission should focus on determining the environmental and economic outcomes of a range of options.
- reducing regulatory burdens for businesses
- improving data comparability across member states
- allowing flexibility for local solutions (such as waste management plans, waste prevention programmes) within an EU framework
- alternatives to targets or heavy regulatory approaches through sharing examples of best practise and guidance and support on meeting a direction of travel
- evidence base required for measures based upon environmental impact
- the benefits to be gained from EU-level action on eco-innovation.