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.

On the other hand, Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) complains about a lack of concrete action. “Recycling targets have been weakened, a landfill ban is no longer foreseen, the recycling calculation method remains ambiguous, waste exports are not covered and waste sorting and quality is not tackled. Waste management needs clear guidance in order to perform efficiently and this facelifted package is lacking concrete actions,” says PRE Director Antonio Furfari.

Moreover, the package does not do anything to appease the environmental organisations. Friends of the Earth Europe says it was a „wasted year for the circular economy“. Director Magda Stoczkiewicz explains: „Under the guise of Better Regulation, the Commission has totally undermined claims of ‚ambition‘ by watering down binding measures and giving member states a free pass to shy away from tackling our overconsumption crisis. Compared with the previous one, this package is not Better Regulation but short-termist Bad Regulation.”

The European Environmental Bureau also criticises the Commission harshly. “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,” says Stéphane Arditi, Policy Manager for products and waste. “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.”

However, the package was well received by the incinerators‘ associations. CEWEP would have liked to see a more ambitious approach regarding the ban on landfill, but sees the ten-per-cent cap as a step in the right direction. The creation of consistent quality criteria for secondary raw materials as well as the harmonisation of the rate calculation system meets with the approval of CEWEP. The European suppliers of waste-to-energy technology (ESWET) are particularly pleased about the fact that no limitations on waste incineration are included in the package. However, ESWET had also hoped for more ambitious requirements for landfill. The association welcomes the fact that the Commission wants to improve the quality of recycling.


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