Waste Framework Directive: food waste reduction sidelined while Council agrees to textile reforms

The Council of the EU has favoured the treatment of textile waste in its position on the Waste Framework Directive, while breaking its promise to reduce food waste, the environmental network Zero Waste Europe says.

This marks another milestone in the file’s legislative process to hold textile producers accountable to the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

The Council’s green light to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for textiles across the EU was long overdue. However, the text lacks crucial provisions, including concrete waste prevention and management targets. The meagre clause to allow setting reduction targets after 2028 is insufficient given the vast quantity of textile waste generated.

Theresa Mörsen, Waste & Resources Policy Officer at Zero Waste Europe, states: “During the negotiations, a few Member States had the good sense to openly voice their intentions to end fast fashion. Honouring the long-established polluter pays principle means addressing the root cause of the waste crisis we’re in. We are delighted to see that the Council recognises a brand’s business strategy as a factor in fee contributions and looks at quantities and the extrinsic durability of products. This will make it easier to hold apparel giants accountable and work towards more sufficient business models. But it is unacceptable that the Presidency proposed extending the transposition period from 18 to 24 months. This extension means valuable time is lost, effectively giving polluters a free ride.”

Meanwhile, Member States agreed to maintain the food waste reduction targets for 2030, as proposed by the Commission. The text includes a review clause for the targets, set for 2027, yet this would be far too late to change course. Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which requires a 50% reduction, will most likely be missed unless Member States put in a substantial effort at the national level. Similarly, the potential legislative proposal for a target for food waste and losses in primary production, scheduled for the end of 2027, is considerably delayed. This is significant because Eurostat already measures those losses.

“I sincerely have to question the commitment of many Member States today to act decisively on climate change,” Mörsen continues. “Not acting on food waste reduction contradicts the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change has only recently warned against the huge impact food waste has on climate change.”

Finally, the text allows Member States to require textile producers to cover the costs of textile waste that ends up in mixed municipal waste.

Janek Vähk, Zero Pollution Policy Manager at Zero Waste Europe, states: “ The adopted text is vague and contradictory. The costs associated with extracting textiles from mixed waste, and then recycling them, must be covered by EPR fees in all states. This is crucial, as the Joint Research Centre published a study showing that 78% of post-consumer textile waste isn’t separately collected and ends up incinerated or landfilled. This mismanagement harms the environment, causes excessive greenhouse gas emissions, water use, pollution, and unnecessary land use. The Council failed to address this, while the Parliament’s position is much stronger in this respect as it urges Member States to implement waste sorting systems for all municipal mixed waste.”

Zero Waste Europe urges EU Member States to align with the position taken by the European Parliament in the forthcoming negotiations. Moreover, the environmental network calls for a more substantial review to become a priority during the new European mandate.


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