MEPs Back Higher Recycling Targets


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MEPs on the EU’s environment committee yesterday backed the adoption of more ambitious waste and recycling targets under the Circular Economy Package.

The lawmakers voted to boost the municipal recycling target from 65 per cent to 70 per cent by 2030, and cap the level of municipal waste going to landfill at five per cent for the same time period, down from the previous target of 10 per cent.

MEPs also agreed a non-binding target to cut food waste by 50 per cent over the next 15 years, up from the original 30 per cent target.

The higher targets are a victory for Italian MEP Simona Bonafè, who last June submitted an amendment calling for more ambitious waste and recycling targets as part of the package after the version put forward by the European Commission in December 2015 failed to deliver the stronger targets promised by the Commission in 2014.

The amendment also calls for at least five per cent of municipal waste to be “prepared for reuse” or repaired by 2030, as well as the separate collection of bio-waste, textiles and wood.

Current recycling rates across Europe hover at around 44 per cent – roughly the same level as that seen in the UK – although some EU nations, such as Sweden, recycle at much higher levels and send virtually no municipal waste to landfill.

And while some Member States countries – most notably France and Italy – have taken significant steps in recent months to take action on food waste, there is currently no common EU approach on the issue.

“We have filled the gap,” Bonafe told Reuters after the vote.

In order for the higher targets to become law, they need to be approved in a full plenary vote in the European Parliament, scheduled to take place in mid-March. After that, Parliament will begin negotiations with the Council of Ministers and the Commission to pass the package into law.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the news, with the European Environmental Bureau suggesting the higher targets could pave the way for more than 800,000 circular economy jobs to be created across Europe by 2030.