New rules for waste management which establish binding targets for recycling have been adopted by the European council of ministers today as part of the Circular Economy package.
This is the final stage of the approval process for bringing the waste legislation into law. The figures adopted today (22 May) mean that member states will have to meet recycling targets for municipal waste of 55% by 2025 and 65% by 2035.
This compares to a target of 50% by 2020 that the UK government and local authorities are currently working to.
Now that the Council has adopted the legislation, it will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal. And, even though the UK is to leave the European Union, the government has signaled the Circular Economy measures will be adopted within UK legislation at a later date.
In a statement, the EU Council (which includes the UK) said, as part of the new rules, member states will set up, by 1 January 2025, separate collections of textiles and hazardous waste from households. In addition, they will ensure that by 31 December 2023, bio-waste is either collected separately or recycled at source.
This is in addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic.
In terms of packaging, member states will have targets to recycle 65% overall of all packaging by 2025, and 70% by 2030. However, there are also individual targets set for separate packaging materials, a few of which are lower than 65%. The packaging waste element of the Circular Economy is important as it will put pressure on the UK’s packaging waste/PRN system to recover more material and so will have an impact on local authority services with packaging producers under pressure to help put more money towards local authority collections and publicity.
The legislation contains a landfill reduction target, and sets minimum requirements for all extended producer responsibility schemes. Producers of products covered by these schemes must take responsibility for the management of the waste stage of their products, and will be required to contribute financially.
Mandatory extended producer responsibility schemes for all packaging have also been introduced. “Member states shall endeavour 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 Council states.
Neno Dimov, Bulgarian minister of environment and water, said: “I am very pleased that ministers have given their approval to the revised legislation on waste today. Europe is moving towards a circular economy. These new rules protect not only our environment but also the health of our citizens.“
“Today we close the loop of product lifecycles, from production and consumption to waste management. This decision is about making our economies more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.”
“Europe is moving towards a circular economy. These new rules protect not only our environment but also the health of our citizens.“Neno Dimov
Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Water
The European Commission presented a revised circular economy package on 3 December 2015, including the so-called waste package which consists of four legislative proposals. It addresses environmental problems with transnational implications covering the impact of inappropriate waste management on greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and littering, including in the marine environment.
It ensures that valuable material embedded in waste is effectively re-used, recycled and re-injected into the European economy, and thereby helps to move towards a circular economy and to reduce the EU’s dependence on the import of raw materials by promoting the prudent, efficient and rational use of natural resources.
On 19 May 2017, EU ambassadors agreed a mandate on the package, paving the way for trilogues, which kicked off on 30 May 2017. After several rounds of negotiations, a provisional agreement between the Estonian presidency and the European Parliament was reached on 18 December, and EU ambassadors endorsed the agreement on 23 February.”