The resolution supported a report from the European Parliament’s environment commission which called on the European Commission to produce binding waste reduction targets by the end of 2015.

The proposition passed comfortably – 394 votes for and 197 against, with 82 abstentions. The vote puts pressure on the European Commission to produce a new EU Circular Economy package, which was previously scrapped after the Commission called for a “more ambitious” plan.

The UK was understood to have some reservations about the new proposals, with leaked documents suggesting MEPs wanted greater weight given to voluntary agreements rather than binding targets. UK MEPs of the Conservative group ECR largely abstained from the vote.

The report’s lead MEP Sirpa Pietikӓen said: “This is a paradigm shift, a systemic change that we are facing, as well as a huge, hidden, business opportunity. It can be created only by helping new business ecosystems to emerge.”

Pietikӓen added the plans would need legislative action and cooperation: “we need a set of indicators and targets. We need a review of existing legislation, as it fails to incorporate the value of ecosystem services. We need a broadening of the scope of the ecodesign directive, a renewal of the waste directive, and a special focus on certain areas like sustainable buildings.”

Binding targets

The European Greens-EFA group said the proposals sent s clear message to the European Commission and added the Parliament wants to go further than previous proposals on the circular economy.

“The report calls for the EU to be producing fully sustainably by 2050 at the latest and for setting binding targets for reducing waste generation by 2025,” said Luxembourg MEP and Green-EFA member Claude Turmes. “From 2020 onwards, separate collection of biodegradable waste should be compulsory and the incineration of recyclable and compostable waste should end.

“The report also calls for, among others, a resource-efficiency target based on reducing resource use by 30% by 2030 compared to 2014, along with a binding food waste reduction target of 30%.”

Ambition needed

Friends of the Earth Europe said the vote was a strong step for dealing with Europe’s overconsumption. Campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said: “The Parliament has provided the baseline which the new circular economy package must live up to.

“True ‘ambition’ means not just dealing with waste and recycling, but taking concrete steps to address the fundamental problem of resource overconsumption in the Eu.”

The European Commission had previously proposed binding circular economy and waste targets but withdrew the proposals in late 2014. The Commission is expected to return with a new set of targets later this year.

Matt Field

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