EU ups packaging recycling targets

Targets for recycling waste from packaging have increased across Europe as member states write the latest EU directive onto their statute books.

The targeted waste streams include packaging made from paper, glass, metal, plastic and wood.

The directive aims to reduce the impact of the landfilling or incineration of used packaging and cut the unnecessary use of fresh materials.

It increases the targets set in previous legislation adopted in 1994.

Under the 1994 directive, member states were expected to recycle or send to waste-from-energy plants at least 50% of their packaging waste, with at least 25% being recycled rather than incinerated.

Recycling targets for each material were set at a 15% minimum.

The new directive sets the incinerate-or-recycle base target at 60%, with a 55% recycling minimum.

The levels for different waste streams are far more ambitious than under the previous directive, with glass and paper at 60%, metals at 50%, plastics at 22.5% and only wood remaining unchanged at 15%.

The targets set in 1994 were supposed to be achieved by the majority of states by 2005, while those in the new directive should be met by 2008.

Many of Europe’s leading recyclers such as Germany and Belgium are already rapidly outstripping the new targets which even look within reach of those languishing at the bottom of the league like the UK and late-comers Greece and Ireland.

But the well-intentioned directive seems to have suffered the fate of many landmark laws aimed to protect Europe’s environment, as most member states once again drag their heels.

The deadline was Thursday, August 18 but so far only the UK, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Luxembourg have informed the European Commission that they have transposed the Directive into their national legislation.

By Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie