ESA warns that European circular economy plans must be realistic

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Proposals put forward by the European Parliament need to be more realistic to ensure a circular economy, according to the ESA.

Last week, the European Parliament voted on measures including a 70% municipal recycling rate by 2030 and an 80% recycling rate for packaging by the same date.

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ESA executive director Jacob Hayler (pictured) said: “While ESA recognises the ambition shown by the Parliament in adopting its amendments, ambitions have to be realistic if they are to result in practical steps towards a more circular economy.”

“Since the start of negotiations on the Commission’s proposals ESA has consistently pointed out that raising recycling rates will not help to achieve a more circular economy unless accompanied by effective measures to increase and sustain the demand for the extra recyclable materials collected. Nothing which the Parliament did yesterday addresses this fundamental issue.

“The same lack of realism runs through other amendments adopted by the Parliament. The recycling calculation method chosen is virtually impracticable, and if it could be implemented would make a 70% recycling rate unachievable by even the best performing Member States. 

“The Parliament’s deletion of the practicability condition (TEEP) from the separate collection requirements shows the same disregard for what is possible on the ground. And the proposed 10% ceiling on disposal of municipal waste in 2030, which would limit both landfill and incineration without energy recovery, would make the proper management of non-recyclable residual waste impossible.

“ESA will look to the Commission and the Council to address the need for sustainable markets for secondary raw materials, and to put realism and practicability back into the Circular Economy legislation, when the three-way ‘Trilogue’ discussions get underway.  This is vital if the industry is to have a sound basis for future investment.”

Jakob Rindegren from ESA will be looking at the implications of Brexit on the UK recycling sector at Secondary Commodity Markets Conference on 26 April. Find out more here.