Expectations too high

If an ambitious announcement is made, it is bound to raise high expectations. Now the EU Commission will have to live with the fact that it was unable to fulfil these expectations with its new circular economy package. Nevertheless, the package is not a total failure, quite the contrary.

The European associations were generally pleased with the new package. The European Recycling Industries Confederation (Euric) has welcomed the package, but still sees room for improvement regarding recycling targets and their calculation methods, stricter measures to phase out the landfilling and incineration of recyclables and also a boost for the secondary raw materials markets. „The revised package has raised huge expectations among recyclers at a time when the recycling industry is enduring difficult economic times,“ said Euric President Dominique Maguin. „The action plan to close the loop through a number of measures, including Ecodesign to facilitate the recyclability of products or ‘market-driven initiatives’, is a positive step forward. However, a lot more needs to be done.”

The European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD) comes to similar conclusions. In particular, the emphasis on better implementation of waste legislation, the new recycling targets, the Ecodesign working plan, and the linking of funding to the waste hierarchy meets with the approval of the Association. However, FEAD President David Palmer-Jones criticises the lack of measures to promote secondary commodities markets. „If Europe truly believes in the wider economic, environmental and social advantages of a circular economy, it must recognise that market forces and supply-side measures alone will not deliver it,“ he explained. „Europe‘s economy can only be truly circular if strong markets are available for the secondary raw materials the recycling and reprocessing sectors produce. The current markets are unstable and disincentivise secondary raw material production and uptake by Europe’s industry.“

Positive feedback comes from the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI). “Our expectations have been met. This major policy initiative has correctly identified the synergies needed to find real solutions. The package has reached a level of ambition rarely seen in policymaking,” says Marco Mensink, CEPI Director General. Plastics Europe also welcomes the package, but considers the recycling targets for plastic “extremely ambitious”. “This holistic approach, together with the Commission’s decision of taking the entire life cycle of products into account, not just the end-of-life, will help make Europe more sustainable and resource-efficient,” Karl-H. Foerster, Executive Director, points out.


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