MEPs vote in favour of legislation that includes 65 per cent recycling target for 2035 and aims to halve food waste by 2030
EU proposals to set updated targets for recycling, food waste, textiles and packaging cleared a major legislative hurdle yesterday, after MEPs voted in favour of the Circular Economy Package in Strasbourg.
The EU Parliament gave its final approval at this week's plenary session to a package of legislation that includes a headline target for member states to recycle at least 55 per cent of waste from households and businesses by 2025, rising to 60 per cent by 2030 and 65 per cent by 2035.
The four pieces of legislation which make up the package are aimed at shifting EU policy and supply chains towards a circular economy, whereby the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible.
Having been approved by MEPs, the package must now go back to the EU Council of Ministers for final formal approval before it is becomes EU law.
It follows in the footsteps of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive earlier this week, as the EU's overarching Clean Energy for all Agenda comes to fruition.
Italian MEP Simona Bonafè, the Parliament's lead for the package, said the circular economy legislation would mean Member States for the first time having to follow a single, shared framework for waste and recycling. "With this package, Europe is firmly committed to sustainable economic and social development, which will at last integrate industrial policies and environmental protection," she said.
Included in the Circular Economy package are targets to recycle 65 per cent of packaging materials by 2025, rising to 70 per cent by 2030, as well as a raft of separate targets for specific packaging materials such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metal and wood.
Moreover, food waste across Europe will be cut by 30 per cent by 2025 rising to 50 per cent by 2030 under the draft legislation, putting the EU in line with the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).
MEP's also called for on Member States to provide incentives for the collection of unsold food products and their safe redistribution, as well as a focus on boosting consumer awareness of the meaning of 'use by' and 'best before' dates on labels.
France is arguably leading the way on this agenda, introducing legislation over the last two years banning supermarkets from throwing away unused food, requiring restaurants to offer 'doggy bags' for leftovers, and teaching children about food sustainability.
Elsewhere in the legislation, all biodegradable household waste would have to either be collected separately or recycled at home through composting by 2024, and household textiles and hazardous waste would also have to be collected separately by the following year.
The draft law also limits the share of waste from homes and businesses permitted to be sent to landfill to just 10 per cent by 2035. However, the ability of Member States to achieve this target is likely to vary widely, with the likes of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany having sent virtually no municipal waste to landfill in 2014, while Croatia, Greece and Latvia still landfill more than three quarters of their waste.
"The circular economy is not only a waste management policy, but is a way to recover raw materials and not to overstretch the already scarce resources of our planet, also by profoundly innovating our production system," Bonafè explained. "This package also contains important measures on waste management, but at the same time goes further, by defining rules taking into account the entire life cycle of a product and aims to change the behaviour of businesses and consumers."
For its part the UK government has said it plans to ratify the Circular Economy package into UK law before its EU membership comes to an end. However, the UK is currently far off meeting proposed EU household recycling targets in the new package, with the current recycling rate for England, Scotland, Wales and NI having stalled at around 44 per cent in recent years. It means the UK is almost certain to miss the EU legal target of 50 per cent recycling by 2020.
It's now only a matter of weeks until the Circular Economy package becomes law, but there's a long road ahead before all it's laudable ambitions will become pratice across all 28 Member States.
Chancellor claims new government—funded body will help make the UK a world leader in sustainable finance
As the Climate Change Act turns 10, future battle lines are being drawn on aviation, agriculture and fracking
Last week, Bloom Energy filed for its own initial public offering, revealing its core financial details for the first time
A new collaborative EV charging agreement was unveiled in Portland this week