Member States of the European Council have not been able to agree end-of-waste criteria for paper.
At a meeting this week, the European Council decided to pass on its responsibility to the European Parliament after there was not a qualified majority to either accept or deny the criteria.
The meeting followed a day of action by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) on 11 September that included it displaying seven paper bales for recycling worth €2,000 in front of the main European Commission building, the Berlaymont, in Brussels.
CEPI wished to highlight through this ‘barricade’ of paper its opposition to the end-of-waste criteria as currently proposed under a campaign called ‘End-of-waste = End of Recycling?’.
A CEPI spokeswoman said: “We don’t object to end-of-waste for paper as such, but object to the current criteria.
“This is the worst case scenario for us with the decision now going to the European Parliament as it may vote to support this. We will now be campaigning for the Members of the European Parliament to reject it.”
CEPI objects to the currently criteria as proposed as it would mean end-of-waste would no longer be considered at the paper mill part of the chain, but at the collection stage for the material.
It argues that this will lead to the end of recycling because ‘recycled paper’ will be unusable without further reprocessing.
In 2012, 71.7 per cent of paper consumed in Europe was recycled, but it believes the proposal from the Commission threatens Europe’s ability to maintain its recycling rates for paper, let alone them.
It has highlighted that the amount of impurities in the output in paper end-of-waste criteria would be 15,000 times higher than they are at the moment. Annually, this would mean 1 million tonnes of impurities such as plastic bags allowed in paper bales by the European Commission.
CEPI recycling and environment director Jori Ringman said: “With this proposal, the European Commission will be exporting pollution to the poor and importing unemployment to Europe.
“It all works against the idea of the EU becoming a resource efficient recycling society as well as against the re-industrialisation of Europe.”