European recycling standards proposed as part of resource market shake-up in EU Industrial Policy Update


The European Union has launched an update to its industrial policy that it hopes will lead to EU GDP from industry rising from the current 15.6 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020.

Part of this strategy is to look at investment in innovation and recycling and resource management is a key element.


European Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani said: “We cannot continue to let our industry leave Europe. Our figures are crystal clear: European industry can deliver growth and can create employment.

“Today we tabled the conditions for the sustainable industry of the future in Europe, to develop the investments needed in new technologies and to rebuild a climate of confidence and entrepreneurship.

“By working together and restoring confidence, we can bring back industry to Europe.”

The Industrial Policy Update document states that more action needs to be taken in order to develop further EU-wide markets for waste recycling and to move towards a closed-loop economy.

It also suggests developing new European standards for graded qualities of recycled materials to foster market development. It gives examples that these standards could be developed for metals, wood and textiles, but does not exclude other materials.

The policy document also calls for additional demonstration projects for recycling, dismantling and sorting technologies, noting in particular mixed plastics.

Sharing of innovative technologies to encourage best practice should also be encouraged, according to the document.

While Cohesion and Structural Funds, other public funding, incentive schemes, and price signals should promote recycling, reconditioning and reuse in preference to incineration.

The Industrial Policy Update document sets out a number of actions that the European Commission intends to take. These are:


  • The Commission will implement specific ecodesign regulations on industrial product, including in particular those having a significant impact on the environment during their lifecycle; support the faster and cheaper delivery of ecodesign policy objectives through sectoral voluntary agreements; jointly review the energy labelling directive and certain aspects of the ecodesign directives to maximise their effectiveness; support ecodesign advisory services through the Enterprise Europe Network to better address the needs of SMEs (2012 onwards)
  • The Commission will further develop stable recycling markets and increase rates through a planned review of specific aspects of the EU’s waste policy (in 2014) and through analysing existing extended producer responsibility schemes with the aim of identifying the most cost-efficient schemes and defining best practices and guidelines
  • Following the launch of the European Innovation Partnership in raw materials in November 2012, the Commission will develop an operational programme on raw materials based on the Strategic Implementation Plan (September 2013).
  • Member States are invited to develop strategies adapted to their national specificities to promote recycling and develop low-energy buildings.


The European Commission also intends to implement a bio-economy strategy including an improved internal market for bio-based industries such as biofuels, bioplastics and others.

This policy update was welcomed by the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) which said that its members already met many of the aims of the industrial policy in terms of being a renewable material sector and ticks many of the boxes of the bio-economy.

But the trade body wants to see more. CEPI director general Teresa Presas said: “We, the paper industries, believe that one size does not fit all. We are starting our own work on breakthrough technologies that will allow our factories to release resources that can be invested in new added value products.

“The communication on EU Industrial Policy must be more than an update. It has to set the grounds for sector specific policies.”