26 February 2018 by Steve Eminton

EU ambassadors back Waste Framework Directive revisions

The latest stage in the approval process for changes to the Waste Framework Directive has seen European Union ambassadors endorse the package agreed at the EU meeting in December 2017.

The Waste Framework Directive measures will soon by voted on by the European Parliament and approval is expected

Before Christmas, member states representatives met with the European Parliament’s representatives under the Estonian presidency and agreed changes to the Waste Framework Directive. The changes form part of the EU Circular Economy package.

The next stage was to secure approval of EU ambassadors which was achieved last Friday (23 February). Now the proposals go to the European Parliament for a vote this month and then to the European Council for formal ratification which is likely to happen in June. The changes will then come into force 20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal.

Under the proposed Brexit changes, the UK government has indicated that it will be adopting the revisions to the Waste Framework Directive although this has not yet been formalised in UK legislation. The UK’s waste strategy, due out by the end of the year, is expected to include the revisions to the Waste Framework Directive.

‘More recycling’

Explaining the implications of Friday’s approval by ambassadors, the Council of the EU said that there were four legislative proposals.

It noted: “The waste package will lead to more recycling of waste and contribute to the creation of a circular economy. It will improve the way waste is managed as well as encourage the re-use of valuable material embedded in waste.

“The new rules establish legally binding targets for waste recycling and the reduction of landfilling with fixed deadlines. These targets will increase the share of municipal waste and packaging waste which is recycled, with specific targets for the recycling of materials used in packaging. The rules also include targets for reducing the amount of municipal waste which is landfilled.”

For local authorities the key targets are for recycling and reuse of 55% of municipal waste by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035.

Textiles

By 1 January 2025 member states will have to set up separate collections for textiles and for hazardous waste from households. “In addition they have to ensure that by 31 December 2023, bio-waste is either collected separately or recycled at source (e. g. home composting). This is in addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic.”

Specific targets for packaging recycling aim to encourage the use of recyclable packaging and reusable packaking, said the EU council. The target figures are shown in the table.

The package, said the EU council in a statement, “also establishes minimum requirements for all extended producer responsibility schemes. Producers of products under these schemes must bear responsibility for the management of the waste stage of their products. Producers will be required to pay a financial contribution for that purpose. In addition, mandatory extended producer responsibility schemes for all packaging have also been introduced in Union legislation.”

Landfill

Within those involved in negotiations over the revisions to the Waste Framework Directive, there has been much discussion over the landfill targets because of the variety of positions in Europe. The agreement reached contains a landfill reduction target.

The statement issued by the EU Council notes: “Member states shall endeavor to ensure that as of 2030, all waste suitable for recycling or other recovery, in particular in municipal waste, shall not be accepted in a landfill. The only exception concerns waste for which landfilling delivers the best environmental outcome. In addition, member states will ensure that by 2035 the amount of municipal waste landfilled is reduced to 10% or less of the total amount of municipal waste generated.”

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