42% of municipal solid waste is currently recycled. The Waste Framework Directive (WFD) already requires 50% to be recycled or prepared for reuse by 2020. The Commission is now proposing a target of 70% recycling and preparation for reuse by 2030. There would be a ban on the landfilling of recyclable materials by 2025.
The Commission is also proposing some aspirational targets – reducing food waste by 30% between 2017 and 2026, and ending the landfilling of recoverable waste by 2030.
The current Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) contains overall recovery targets (recycling + energy recovery etc.), overall recycling targets and material-specific recycling targets. The Commission is now proposing that there should be no recovery target, but overall and material-specific targets for recycling and preparation for reuse:
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Recycling rates must now be calculated net of any discarded residues, rather than being the input of packaging waste to an effective recovery or recycling process. However, discarded residues can be ignored if they represent no more than 2% of the waste put into the recycling or reuse process.
In the case of composites, each material shall be counted separately for the purpose of calculating recycling rates, rather than being counted according to the principal material as at present.
Member States must ensure that financial contributions into EPR schemes by producers “cover the entire cost of waste management, including separate collection and treatment, adequate information to waste holders, data gathering and reporting.” Producers must also “support litter prevention and clean-up initiatives.”
The preamble to the proposal states that littering, especially of plastic, has a direct and detrimental impact on the environment and a high clean-up cost. Specific measures in waste management plans, financial support from producers within EPR schemes, proper enforcement should help eradicate this.
Member States shall take measures to encourage the design of packaging in order to reduce its environmental impact and the generation of waste, provided such measures avoid distortions of the internal market and do not hinder compliance by other Member States. The measures shall take account of the full life cycle impact of packaging. (It is not clear how this provision relates to the guarantee of free circulation throughout the EU of packaging which complies with the Essential Requirements – this provision remains unchanged.)
WEEE and batteries
The only changes proposed to Directives 2012/19/EU on WEEE and 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators relate to reporting procedures and to Committee procedures.
At the same time the Commission published Questions and Answers on the Commission Communication "Towards a Circular Economy" and the Waste Targets Review.
The review will look at the implementation and effectiveness of the Ecolabel and make recommendations for its future use. It will focus on three product groups – tissue paper, indoor paints and varnishes and tourist accommodation, but the consultants want to get views from as many member states and sectors as possible. Interested parties can take part in an online survey.
According to the Commission press release, food waste in industrialised countries is as high as in developing countries: over 40% of food losses occur at retail and consumer level in industrialised countries and over 40% occurs after harvest and during processing in developing countries.
In industrialised countries like the EU member states, food is wasted along the entire food chain by farmers, food industry, retailers, caterers and consumers. The reasons are diverse and sector specific. The main causes are:
Lack of awareness, lack of shopping planning, confusion about "best before" and" use by" date labels, lack of knowledge on how to cook with leftovers (households);
Standard portion sizes, difficulty to anticipate the number of clients (catering);
Stock management inefficiencies, marketing strategies that can lead to unnecessary purchases (2 for 1, buy 1 get 1 free) (retail);
Overproduction, product & packaging damage (farmers and food manufacturing);
Inadequate storage (whole food chain); and
The Commission has set up the Working Group on Food Waste to develop good practices and look at obstacles and options for EU actions to reduce food waste without compromising food safety. Commission services are currently examining how the concept of resource efficiency can be better applied to the production and consumption of food, with a focus on avoiding food waste. The Commission plans to come forward with an initiative in this area ‘in the coming months’.
Meanwhile the UK packaging and environment research organisation INCPEN has published the results of a survey of the main food product types that are dumped or reduced-to-clear between deposit and retail checkout.
The amount of packaging sent for final disposal in EU-27 in 2011 was 18.2 million tonnes, 2.6% less than in 2010. In EU-15, packaging sent for final disposal fell by 2.7% to 14.5 million tonnes. The tonnage not recovered represented 23% of the packaging placed on the market in EU-27, 20% of the packaging placed on the market in EU-15 and 40% of the packaging placed on the market in the “new” member states (down from 44% in 2010, despite the increased tonnage placed on the market). Three of the “new” member states – Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia – reported a large increase in their recycling rates.
The overall recycling rate in EU-27 was 64%, one percentage point higher than in 2010. The recycling rate in EU-15 remained at 65%. The EU-15 rate was however slightly depressed by the introduction of a completely new calculation methodology in Denmark which resulted in the reported recycling rate there falling from 84% to 54% (and the reported glass recycling rate falling from 174% to 86%).
Material-specific recycling rates were as follows:
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All EU-15 member states had to meet the Directive’s targets by 2011. Only two missed any of the targets:
With its new methodology, Denmark missed the 55% overall recycling target by one percentage point and the 22.5% plastics recycling target by 0.3%;
Greece (37%) was well short of the 60% glass recycling target and with 44% metals recycling also missed the EU target of 50%.
A more detailed analysis of the 2011 data will be available shortly on our website.
Commission Decision 2005/270/EC sets out the reporting formats for the member states, but it does not specify the methodology to be used for the calculations. Harmonisation of calculation methodology is one of the issues being addressed in the current review of EU waste policy, and 15 packaging recovery organisations commissioned Sismega Consultores and FFACT Management Consultants to review the methodologies being used in 9 member states and make recommendations. Their report should be available soon.
* EU-27 – all EU member states (at that time) ** EU-15 – those countries in membership before 2004