Compost lobby questions lack of direction on biowaste

There is no end of legislation and guidance looking at landfill, recycling and hazardous waste but Brussels has so far remained surprisingly silent when it comes to compost.

This was the point raised by a broad coalition of lobbyists taking in pressure groups, local authorities and waste industrialists when they met with Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas on Monday, June 13.

The Biowaste Coalition urged Dimas to put forward a directive on biological waste in coming months.

It argues the EC is overlooking a huge opportunity by not providing strong leadership on biological waste, such as food scraps and garden waste, which makes up between a third and a half of all municipal waste.

At the moment most of that waste is going to landfill or incinerators when it could be rotted down into compost and used to improve soil quality while dramatically reducing the amount of rubbish we need to dispose of.

Biowaste in landfill releases methane, which contributes to climate change, and hazardous leachates which can pollute surrounding land and groundwater.

The coalition, in its first meeting with Commissioner Dimas, stressed that the EU Member States have been asking for a special directive on biowaste and laid out the many economic, social and environmental benefits to be gained and damages that may be avoided by setting targets for biowaste recycling.

Only in this way, it claims, can necessary incentives be given to investors to make a real difference for organic materials recycling and subsequently soil protection in the EU.

“We very much welcome Mr Dimas’ readiness to approach this issue with an open mind and for the importance he has attached to hearing from the coalition, and in particular directly from the enterprises working in waste management, the evidence on the multiple benefits this directive could bring, and for his willingness to consider these arguments,” said Melissa Shinn, EEB Waste Policy Officer for the European Environmental Bureau, part of the coalition.

But her colleague John Hontelez said there were still political obstacles to overcome.

“While we warmly welcome the dialogue Mr Dimas has engaged in we are deeply disappointed that the Environment Directorate itself appears to resist the necessity of the directive.”

He said the directorate’s apparent belief that better regulation meant no more legislation was misguided and dangerous, especially since in this case both industry and member states has signalled their desire for guidance.

By Sam Bond

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