European recycling and waste trade association have welcomed EU President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union address, but called for more to stimulate the market in recyclable materials.
In her speech, she said that 37% of NextGenerationEU funding will be spent on European Green Deal objectives with 30% of the €750 billion (£682 billion) funding to be raised via green bonds.
She outlined that this funding should be used to “kickstart a European renovation wave and make our Union a leader in the circular economy”.
The EU President also said that the European Commission was proposing to increase the reduction in emissions target from 40% to a 55% decrease by 2030.
Supporting these measures, EuRIC president Cinzia Vezzosi said: “To speed up the transition towards a circular economy and meet the ambition set by the European Green Deal, it is instrumental to incentivise the use of secondary raw materials in manufacturing.
“Recycled content targets for a variety of products as well as incentives to reward recycling’s environmental benefits and level the playing field with primary materials are absolutely essential.
“In addition, time has come to speed up the adaptation of the EU’s regulatory framework to create a well-functioning market for secondary materials and streamline requirements hampering circular value chains, keeping in mind the global nature of commodity markets which are key to balance supply and demand.
“Last but not least, decisive actions are needed to boost eco-design for re-use and recycling of all product categories. Products which cannot be recycled when they reach end-of-life by using best available techniques should not find their way on the internal market. We have a vested interest in working with producers to ensure that design for circularity becomes the new norm.”
FEAD president Peter Kurth added: “Our members, the private waste management companies, are ready to take up the challenge. Their contribution is essential to achieve the circular economy and fight climate change.
“Now we need concrete actions from the European legislator to ensure a very much needed shock on demand for recyclates: mandatory recycled content rules in certain key products, while keeping positive waste export rules to allow the offer in recyclates to meet the demand where it is, ensuring proper functioning of secondary raw materials markets.
“The EU recovery plan will be determinant to support and boost investments in selective collection and recycling.”
While the UK is no longer a member of the EU, it is inevitable we will be influenced by what happens there in one way or another, whether the Government agrees a trade deal with it or not.
These measures announced by EU President von der Leyen are ambitious and have the potential to transform the recycling industry and the overall environment for the better.
But the ambitions of the UK Government, that were set out in the Resources & Waste Strategy also have the potential to be transformative for the recycling market by improving product recyclability and aiming for quality secondary commodities.
What is clear is that the EU is still a major trading block for UK recyclate and probably always will be. Therefore, it is essential that there is alignment between the UK and EU to ensure that trade in recyclable materials such as paper, plastic, metals and glass is able to flow easily across borders.
But we also need to recognise that we also need more UK recycling infrastructure, while also understanding that we can never create a functional recycling market on our own.