European Parliament and Council reach an agreement on waste targets

The European Parliament and Council have reached an agreement on the final version of revised EU waste laws, after 18 hours of talks, and have potentially reached a compromise on the 2035 recycling target for municipal waste.

The trilogue talks looked at four legislative proposals on landfilling, waste recycling and packaging recycling, which were originally tabled by the European Commission in December 2015 and make up the legislative core of the EU’s circular economy package.

According to sources, on Monday at 5am, both bodies favoured a 65% by 2035 recycling target – a decrease on the 70% target originally put forward by the Parliament. However, ENDS understands that this target is still subject to review.

There is also a 60% municipal waste recycling target for 2030 compared to a 65% goal originally proposed by the Commission, and a 70% overall packaging recycling target by 2030 as opposed to the EU executive’s original 75% target, ENDS understands.

Elsewhere, under the trilogue agreement, all authorities will be obliged to measure recycling rates at input to the last recycling process, or otherwise to estimate the losses occurring after first sorting operations.

The agreement will also see stricter requirements for the separate collection of waste, reinforced implementation of the waste hierarchy through economic instruments and additional measures for member states to prevent waste generation.

A ten-year extension to meet the 10% limit on landfilling of municipal waste has also been agreed on, ENDS understands.

“In the EU, nearly a third of municipal waste is landfilled, with a limited share of the total being recycled,” said Siim Kiisler, environment minister of current EU presidency holder Estonia. “With this agreement, EU member states are committing to clear EU targets on reuse, recycling and landfilling and rules to improve the management of different waste streams.”

He added that the new package would help to accelerate the EU’s transition towards a circular economy. 

NGO Zero Waste Europe said it welcomed the new package, but in a statement it also expressed concern that the “pace of ambition was too slow to address the challenges that Europe is facing today”. It added that “almost every single meaningful objective proposed by the Commission or the Parliament has been axed or delayed by the Council”.

Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), echoed the sentiments of Zero Waste Europe, saying that the agreement was not the outcome “we all hoped for”, but was nonetheless a significant improvement compared with the laws currently in place.

Looking forward, EU diplomats will be debriefed on the outcome of the last trilogue on 20 December. The final analysis of the text will take place under the incoming Bulgarian presidency with a view to confirming the agreement.

After formal approval, the new legislation will be submitted to the Parliament for a vote at first reading and to the Council for final adoption.

Source: ENDS Europe

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