ESA says 70 per cent recycling needed to deliver circular economy but not for all


Trade body the Environmental Services Association (ESA) has said that imposing new and higher Europe-wide recycling targets is not a good idea.

While it wants to see a 70 per cent recycling target for the UK, it has warned that poorer performing nations need more “credible” targets as part of its response to the European Union waste consultation


ESA Europe policy advisor Roy Hathaway said: “It’s common sense that we need to landfill less, recycle more and make better use of our resources. In the past, successive EU waste targets have been important in supporting UK progress in doing this, but the context is changing.

“In an EU of 28 Member States, there are huge variation in recycling levels, financial resources and political will to change. Put simply, we do not believe that the poorest performers are on track to meet their 2020 targets. Ensuring that they do must be the EU’s first priority. But, given the huge variation across Europe, we don’t see a way, at the moment, to set new EU targets that are high enough to challenge Member States with good recycling rates but would still be credible in the poorer performing EU countries.

“The UK must continue to have high aspirations. In our recent report Going for Growth – a practical route to a circular economy – we made it clear that to deliver a genuinely circular economy we must be aiming for recycling rates of 70 per cent or more. Getting policy right is the key to this. In the UK that means things like clarifying the future of the landfill tax, and improving the ‘investability’ of merchant plants needed to drive commercial and industrial waste up the hierarchy.

“Where the EU does have a vital role is in regulation to tackle issues which can only be addressed at an EU-wide level because of the single market. The most important of these is eco-design for recyclablility where we look to the EU to take firm action.”