EU member states think circular economy ‘could harm recycling rates’

Recycling rates could be affected by the new circular economy package

Representatives from Germany, Austria, Sweden and other EU member states have converged at a conference in London to discuss the effects that the new Circular Economy package could have upon the nations’ recycling rates.

The EU Commission’s Circular Economy package must first be passed as a law by the Council of the European Union before member states have to act upon its proposals, but if it was to get approval by the council, EU nations would have to change the way they “measure their progress towards the municipal waste recycling target”.

The current recycling rate is set at 50% by 2020 and EU members can calculate how much they are recycling by using either one of four EU Commission approved methodologies. At present, Germany and Austria are two of the top performing member states, recycling 64% and 57% respectively.

The Energy from Waste Conference took place in London on Wednesday, 24 February, and was attended by representatives from member states, including from top performing nations, who are concerned that the new regulations proposed in the Circular Economy package could negatively effect the recycling rates across the EU.

The commission proposal outlines plans to judge the recycling rate by “the weight of the municipal waste recycled shall be understood as the weight of the input waste entering the final recycling process” rather than the collection of waste meant for recycling.

Jose-Jorge Diaz del Castillo, legal officer for DG Environment for the EU Commission, said: “The Circular Economy package proposes that we are counting only input into the final recycling facility whereas [before] we didn’t know how much comes out as recyclables.”

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