Call for EU to follow ten steps to implement circular economy

A group of leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have issued a joint statement calling for the European Union (EU) to implement ten steps that will help Europe work towards a circular economy.

The statement is called ‘Bring waste full circle: How to implement the circular economy’ and it is signed by the European Environmental Bureau, Seats at Risk, Zero Waste Europe, Rreuse, Greenpeace, Ecos, the Surfrider Foundation Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe.

The joint statement calls for a 70% recycling target for municipal waste across Europe, introducing binding waste prevention targets including for food waste, banning landfilling and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste, and promoting producer responsibility and resource taxation schemes.

The NGOs have issued the call ahead of the expected revision of the Landfill, Packaging and Packaging Waste and Waste Framework Directives in the European Union’s waste review that should be published next month.

EEB policy officer for waste Piotr Barczak said: “The review of waste policy is an opportunity to set Europe on a path towards resource efficiency. The EU depends on imports for most of its valuable materials, yet many of these end up in landfills and incinerators. This is not just a missed opportunity, it is pure folly.

“These initiatives show us the scale of the problem we are facing. But the real way to fight waste is not to generate so much of it in the first place. And that can only happen if the EU is ambitious enough in its review of waste policy and includes stringent prevention, reuse and recycling targets.”

In December, edie published an exclusive blueprint for businesses seeking to join the circular economy, offering them practical guidance on how to engage with the ideology and deliver on it.

The practical guide ‘Making circular relevant: a business blueprint’, published in association with sponsor FCC Environment and sister title Local Authority Waste & Recycling magazine, outlines step-by-step how any organisation, regardless of size or business activity, can start incorporating closed loop thinking into its operations in a realistic way.

The blueprint follows on from the Resource Revolution White Paper published last year ‘Closing the loop: risk or reward?‘ which investigated thinking around the emerging circular economy, among businesses and their waste supply chains.

NGOs are calling for the following ten steps to be implemented by the EU:

1.  Set a binding EU material reduction target based on the Total Material Consumption indicator

2.  Set a zero residual waste target (the waste that is not reused or recycled) by 2025

3.  Introduce binding waste prevention targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste at the European and national levels

4.  Set preparation for reuse targets for municipal solid waste and packaging, with targets for – at a minimum – textiles and furniture, based on the weight of material per capita put back on the market by approved reuse centres. The targets must not be combined with recycling

5.  Increase recycling targets to at least 70% of municipal solid waste, using only one harmonised methodology for all Member States to report on, based on the recycling output. Set an overall packaging recycling target at 80% and boost plastic packaging recycling to at least 75%

6.  Set a binding quantitative marine litter reduction target of 50% with an explicit definition of litter included in waste legislation, in recognition of the serious negative impacts on the marine environment

7.  Introduce obligatory separate collection of waste by 2020, in particular for biowaste from homes and the hospitality sector as well as separate collection for materials including paper, cardboard, metals and textiles

8.  Promote economic instruments that support the full implementation of the waste hierarchy, such as extended producer responsibility, pay-as-you-throw schemes and the taxation of resources where appropriate

9.  Design out single-use, non-recyclable products and toxic materials such as microplastics and oxo-fragementable plastics

10.  Ban landfill and incineration by 2020 for all recyclable and compostable waste. Ban the financing of incinerators and landfills via structural and cohesion funds.

Liz Gyekye

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