24 January 2017 by Will Date

MEPs back 70% recycling target

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee has voted in favour of proposed amendments to the EU Circular Economy Package supporting an increase of the recycling target up to 70% by 2030.

Amendments tabled by the Italian MEP Simona Bonafè were adopted by the Committee this morning (24 January) in an electronic vote.

Simona Bonafe cover

Simona Bonafè, rapporteur for the European Parliament’s Environment Committee tabled amendments to the Circular Economy package (Picture: European Union Audiovisual Service)

The adopted amendments will be discussed more widely by MEPs at a Plenary session scheduled to take place during March – but will need backing of European ministers before they can be adopted into EU law.

Included in the amendments are proposals to increase the proposed target for recycling – which was originally proposed at 65% by 2030 by the European Commission in December 2015. MEPs argued that these amendments would ‘accelerate the switch to a circular economy’.

Also agreed upon was inclusion of a requirement for separate collection of bio-waste, textiles and wood to be made mandatory – mirroring TEEP requirements already in place for the collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass.

MEPs have also proposed amendments to the wording of text relating to the ‘final recycling process’ which is likely to be important to the point at which material can be considered ‘recycled’.

Text originally put forward by the Commission stated that the ‘final recycling process’: “means the recycling process which begins when no further mechanical sorting operation is needed and waste materials enter a production process and are effectively reprocessed into products, materials or substances.”

Recycling

However, the Environment Committee has approved an amendment to the wording of the paragraph which instead states that the term means: “the recycling process which begins when no further sorting operation is needed and waste materials are effectively reprocessed into products, materials or substances.”

Despite the UK’s impending exit from the EU, it is now anticipated that any Circular Economy legislation agreed by Europe will be adopted into UK law.

Last week it was revealed that some civil servants within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also anticipate that the UK will opt to adhere to the proposals that are eventually agreed in the package after Brexit, although it remains to be seen how the UK will approach a higher recycling target.

Brexit

Speaking in a debate in Westminster yesterday, the Defra minister Thérèse Coffey, said: “On the circular economy package, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister laid out several times, while we are members of the European Union we will negotiate in good faith; I am approaching the negotiations on the eventual outcome for the circular economy in a way consistent with that.

“On the timing, it is likely that we will still be in the European Union, which will mean that we are required by directive to introduce it into law, but we are approaching the matter in good faith while negotiating quite hard on behalf of the United Kingdom and what we think is achievable and realistic.”

Defra is known to be reluctant to commit to a higher recycling target, with Dr Coffey having described the 65% goal as “too high to be achievable” (see letsrecycle.com story).

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