UK campaigning against EU 65% recycling target, according to leaked document


Evidence from Greenpeace Unearthed has found that the UK is opposing proposed EU recycling targets during negotiations with Brussels, despite pledging to develop “ambitious” recycling goals.  

Leaked notes from an EU delegation, seen by Unearthed, show that UK officials told members that the country will not support the EU target of 65% of all municipal waste recycled by 2035. This target is part of the EU Circular Economy Package.  


According to Unearthed, diplomats from three other EU nations, speaking to it anonymously, agreed that the UK had opposed to the target, with one saying that the UK had been “quite blunt”.  

Current laws state that EU nations must reach a legally binding recycling rate of 50% by 2020 but the UK’s rate was 43.5% in 2015.  

While Theresa May had committed in the Government’s 25-year environmental strategy to meet all current waste and recycling targets, and develop “more ambitious” ones, it is not clear if Brexit will mean it avoids having to meet the EU recycling target altogether.  

European Environmental Bureau waste policy offer Piotr Barczak said: “Other EU countries have already reached an agreement on the new recycling targets, so it is unlikely the UK will be able to water down the targets, but with support from other member states it might further delay the adoption and implementation of the laws, which would in turn increase the risk of waste-related pollution in the UK.

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