Janez Potocnik has re-enforced the requirement for separate collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass in Britain.
The European Commissioner for the Environment writing in a blog for the Guardian website aimed at a British audience also said that the era of cheap and plentiful resources is over.
He wrote: “The primary objective is to improve the design of goods and promote technologies that focus on durable production. When that can’t be done, reuse is encouraged, followed by recycling, where there are indeed European obligations – 50 per cent recycling for domestic waste by 2020 and 70 per cent of construction waste by the same date.
“Separate collections are required for paper, metal, plastic and glass by 2015. Targets are already in place for specific waste streams such as batteries, electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles and so on.”
Last week, Defra began a consultation on separate collection of these materials by 2015, but allowing commingled collections where it wasn’t possible to collect separately.
The European Commissioner added: “Industries know that the era of cheap and plentiful resources is coming to an end, but that message still needs to get through to the rest of society. In the first decade of this century, resource prices rose sharply, wiping out the real price reductions that had characterised the previous 100 years. When you consider that Europe already imports six times more materials and resources than it exports, the implications for all are clear.
“The waste sector has great potential, and it is expanding. Between 2004 and 2008, the turnover of the seven main categories of recyclables almost doubled to more than €60 billion (£51 billion) in the EU. The figures dropped sharply at the end of 2008 and in the first half of 2009 because of the economic downturn, but they seem to be recovering again.”