EP votes for stricter Landfill Directive

The European Parliament has approved the draft EC Landfill Directive, at it's second reading, with a number of amendments to tighten up the text and reduce extensions for countries heavily reliant on landfill.

The Directive is intended to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill tips over a 15-20 year period, and to ensure that the waste that is landfilled does not cause environmental harm. The Parliament’s Environment Committee successfully proposed 19 amendments to the text from the Council of Ministers. These included one stipulating a 25% limit on the amount of biodegradable wastes going to landfill instead of the 35% figure agreed by Council and another designed to reduce, from 4 years to 2 years, the extra time given to countries such as the UK and Ireland where 80% of waste ends up in landfill.

Other amendments include reporting requirements, enabling economic measures such as a landfill tax, a minimum of 30 years post-closure monitoring of landfill sites, and no time limit on the liability of operators for damage caused by their activities.

This is the EU’s second attempt at a landfill directive – the previous one failed after the Parliament rejected it at second reading, considering it too full of exemptions. The text will now go back to the Council of Ministers, who may accept or reject the amendments before finally approving the Directive. Environment Commissioner, Ritt Bjerregaard, gave her backing to most of the amendments, and has said that she expects the Directive to be approved this year.

According to figures from the Commission, 65% of Europe’s waste was landfilled in both 1990 and 1995, while recycling grew from 4% in 1990 to 10% in 1995.

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