There has been a mixed response to the circular economy package launched this week by the European Commission.
While supporting the concept of the circular economy, the Paper Packaging Coordination Group of the Confederation of European Paper Industries said recycling targets for paper and board should be “ambitious and reflect technical realities” and that “packaging targets should be proportionate between different consumer packaging materials, fairly taking into account each material’s situation”.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder said: “Europe must not waste this opportunity to protect the planet’s resources and end the throwaway society.
“We were promised a more ambitious package, but the only ambition shown here has been for watering down targets.
“Ambitious targets, including for food waste, must be reinstated.”
European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN) welcomed the “holistic approach towards a competitive and resource efficient circular economy”.
Its chairman Martin Reynolds said: “EUROPEN members are committed to continuously improving the environmental performance of packaging products in a sustainable manner.
“Being able to take advantage of the scale of the EU internal market has been crucial to unlocking the packaging supply chain’s investment in resource efficient innovations. Therefore, we strongly support the retention of the internal market safeguard, which remains vital to achieving a competitive and resource efficient circular economy for our industry.”
The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) said recycling targets for glass were ambitious but the industry was ready to meet the challenge.
FEVE president Vitaliano Torno added: “The proposed recycling targets for glass packaging are challenging especially for those countries where a lot still needs to be done.
“More investment will be needed to develop glass recycling infrastructure.”
But the European Environmental Bureau accused the commission of “smoke and mirrors”.
Policy manager for products and waste Stéphane Arditi said: “The Commission has failed to deliver on its promise to come up with a more ambitious proposal. The addition of some nice initiatives does not offset the fact that the legally binding core of the package, notably the waste targets, is weaker than in last year’s proposal. We’ve ended up with a wasted year and a proposal that is less ambitious.
“Lowering the recycling targets compared to last year’s proposal means that more waste will be sent to landfill or incineration plants. This is a missed opportunity because recycling creates more jobs and causes fewer emissions than either landfill or incineration.
“Europe has no choice but to become more efficient with the resources it uses. A growing global population and increased demand for the planet’s materials is forcing this. But for it to happen fast enough European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will need to inject more life into this proposal, so that the EU can lead globally in this crucial area.”