Commission should push ahead with biowaste directive

A group of European organisations have expressed their deep concerns about the apparent intention of the Commission's DG Environment to abandon an independent directive on biowaste.

After five years, several advanced Commission working papers, numerous stakeholder meetings and at least seven different institutional calls for legislation, nothing has yet been delivered.

Given the critical stage of decision making on the thematic strategies derived from the 6th Environment Action Programme, the coalition of six organisations, including the European Environment Bureau (EEB), the European Compost Network (ECN) and the Association for the Sustainable Use and Recovery of Resources in Europe (ASSURRE) sent a letter to Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.

The letter called upon Mr Dimas to ensure that the thematic strategies included a proposal for a biowaste directive, based on the already advanced discussions on the need for such legislation.

It also stated that the Commission’s idea of focusing only on compost product standards for the waste stream was insufficient.

“Standards without complementary strategic legislation on biowaste would not generate the critical mass needed to drive change, or give the legal certainty to address the current financial risks for both the private and public sectors,” a spokesman for the coalition explained.

“Essential investments in collection and treatment infrastructure, quality guarantee schemes and research would not be viable. We are therefore extremely concerned about eh change of direction the Commission has taken on this issue in the last year.”

He added that failure by the Commission to come forward with a biowaste directive would constitute the loss of a unique opportunity at a crucial time, given the crosscutting environmental, economic and social benefits such a directive would have, as well as the strong support that exist among stakeholders, Council and the European Parliament for such legislation.

“The advantages of quality compost and the need for reliable sources of clean bio waste are widely documented, but are also highly dependent on creating critical mass to ensure high volumes of quality, clean supply for these applications,” he concluded.

By Jane Kettle

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