Recycling and waste reduction given welcome boost

14 March 2017

Plans to cut resource use and waste across the European Union were given a boost today, with the European Parliament adopting their final resolution on amendments to the EU Waste Directives.

The European Parliament voted through increased recycling targets, reinforcing proposals from their Environment Committee in January. Significant gaps remain however, that could allow waste to be unnecessarily sent to landfill and incineration, and leave the growth in bio-based packaging unchecked, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

Meadhbh Bolger, resource justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This is a welcome boost for recycling and waste reduction in Europe. The European Council needs to step up to the plate to ensure these more ambitious proposals become European law, and improve measures to prevent waste going to landfill and incineration."

The European Parliament accepted a number of measures to cut resource use and waste in Europe. These included increased targets for recycling – 70% by 2030, with an 80% target for packaging waste, and separate targets for preparation for reuse of waste (5%) and for reuse of packaging waste (10%).

The measures also include mandatory separate collection of bio-waste, textiles and waste oils, and the possibility for binding targets on reducing food waste to be introduced by 2020 as opposed to the weaker non-binding targets that currently exist. Incentives to reduce total waste generation and reduce non-recyclable and excessive packaging, were also voted through, as well as mandatory sorting systems for all packaging materials, however the promotion of bio-based packaging is a direction we don't like to see.

Meadhbh Bolger continued: "Promoting the substitution of packaging such as conventional plastics, with bio-based materials is a false solution. These materials do have a role to play, but reducing consumption and preventing waste generation should be the priority, rather than lip-service to green principles."

Environment Ministers from all EU Member States are holding ongoing discussions, and are likely to come to a final opinion on the waste laws later this year before entering negotiations discussions with the Parliament and Commission.