Disappointment for coalition as EC rules out biowaste directive

A coalition of lobby groups, industry representatives and political activists has expressed its concerns over the European Commission's announcement that it has no intention of drawing up a specific directive governing the disposal of biodegradable waste.

The Biowaste Coalition, back by a number of Member States and MEPs, had been pushing for the directive which it claims would have given much needed guidance to help governments fulfill the targets of the Landfill Directive, reducing biodegradable waste landfilling and making waste management investment decisions.

In a letter to the coalition Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas instead suggests alternative instruments, which only focus on the setting of quality standards for composting and waste installations, rather than tighter regulation.

The coalition has expressed deep concerns that this “hands-off” approach may endanger the timely and effective implementation of the Landfill Directive.

“The political signal of reducing reliance on landfill with clear diversion targets in the Landfill Directive was a necessary first step”, said a spokesperson for the coalition.

“However, it is essential that the Commission provides Member States with strategic guidance as regards which management options to consider when implementing national strategies for the diversion of biodegradables.”

He said compostable waste should not be ignored as at 30% to 45% it makes up the biggest single waste stream of municipal waste in Europe.

“Setting harmonised recycling targets at EU level will therefore send an important political signal in a critical time period when Member States and local authorities are taking long-term decisions on future waste management policy direction and investments,” he said.

According to the coalition actively steering EU waste management by setting clear goals for priority waste stream management is the basis for creating secure environments for investment and innovation in recycling across Europe.

Such attention to detail and focus on a particular waste stream can and has been done, says the coalition, citing the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive as an example.

It claims that compost and other biological treatment standards alone will not provide adequate upstream guidance for the whole sector of the biological treatment of waste and organic matter recycling.

“The Commission is wrong in believing that sustainable management of biowaste would take place without EU guidance”, said the coalition spokesperson.

“Biowaste is a valuable resource and it is economically and environmentally unjustified to abandon EU legislation in this area”.

The coalition is supported in its concerns by a number of EU Member States including Germnay, Spain and the Czech Republic and is now encouraging other Member States and MEPs to demand that biowaste legislation back onto the EU political agenda.

By Sam Bond

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