20 October 2008

Council of Ministers set to approve Waste Framework Directive

The revised Waste Framework Directive – which will lay new ground rules for waste across Europe – is expected to be approved today (October 20) at a meeting of the European Council of Ministers in Luxembourg.

The document, which was sent to the council with amendments after being approved by the European Parliament in June 2008 (see letsrecycle.com story), is scheduled to be considered “without discussion” in an open session on the first day of the two-day meeting of Environment Ministers from the EU's member states.

The four waste streams specified in paragraph 2(a) of Article 11 (i.e. paper, metal, plastic and glass) would be included in that overall target where they originate from households but the 50% target would not apply individually to each of the specified wastes

 
Government statement

If approved, the revised Directive would see the introduction of national targets including a 50% goal for household recycling and reuse by 2020, and a 70% target for non-hazardous construction and demolition waste by the same date.

With regards household waste, Article 11 of the revised Directive states: “By 2020 the preparing for reuse and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from household and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households, shall be increased to a minimum of overall 50% by weight.”

However, this aspect of the Directive has proved controversial, with Caroline Jackson, the Conservative MEP responsible for steering the revisions through the European Parliament, claiming last month that the wording of the targets could cause confusion (see letsrecycle.com story).

After the Parliament backed the revised Directive, Defra stated that it believed that food and green waste would count towards the 50% target and that it would interpret the 50% to refer to all materials in total, and not for each of those listed (see letsrecycle.com story).

And, the UK Government has now submitted a “unilateral statement” to the Council to accompany the Directive, detailing how it intends to interpret Article 11.

The statement confirms that the UK will consider the 50% goal to “apply to the totality of household waste the requirement to increase, by 2020, to a minimum of overall 50 % by weight, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials from households and, possibly, similar waste streams.

“The four waste streams specified in paragraph 2(a) of Article 11 (i.e. paper, metal, plastic and glass) would be included in that overall target where they originate from households but the 50% target would not apply individually to each of the specified wastes,” it added.

The statement also said that, whereas the revised Directive favours separate collection of materials to be achieved by 2015, the UK still sees a place for commingled collections after that date.

It says the Government will “encourage the separate collection of wastes where this is technically, environmentally and economically practicable, while allowing the co-mingled collection of paper, metal, plastic, glass and other recyclable materials for subsequent separation in material recycling facilities to continue after 2015 where this is the most effective means of increasing recycling rates in the local circumstances.”

Confirmation of the Council's backing for revised Waste Framework Directive is expected later today.

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