FEAD president urges new Environment Commissioner to back circular economy package

The president of European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services, David Palmer-Jones, has written to the new European Commissioner for the environment Karmenu Vella urging him to back the European Commission's circular economy package.

Palmer-Jones’ letter comes amid reports in the trade press that new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is planning to review or ditch the circular economy package.

Within the letter, Palmer-Jones underlined the importance of the Commission’s circular economy package for jobs, growth, and sustainable development in the European Union, and the wish of the resource management sector to remain engaged with Europe.

The circular economy package includes proposals for Member States to recycle or reuse 70% of municipal waste by 2030 – an increase on the current 50% by 2020 target – and to ban recyclable materials such as plastics, paper, metals, glass and biodegradable waste to landfill by 2025.

Landfilling of waste would also be phased out entirely under the proposals.

The development of the proposals was spearheaded by Janez Potočnik, who stepped down from his role at the beginning of this month. He was replaced by Karmenu Vella.

In his letter, Palmer-Jones wrote that FEAD members have welcomed the Commission’s package of proposals designed to promote a more circular economy and improve the efficiency with which resources including waste are managed in Europe. He wrote: “The direction of travel and the level of ambition set out in these proposals can only be applauded.”

Palmer-Jones, who is also the chief executive of SITA UK, stated: “FEAD is aware that some of the detailed provisions in the Commission proposal need to be fine-tuned so as to make them practical and feasible. However, rather than withdraw the circular economy package, FEAD members strongly believe it should be retained, with certain modifications to improve its effectiveness.”

These modifications include measures to “build and sustain viable markets for secondary outputs in view of achieving circularity”. This includes “more emphasis on ‘pull’ measures such as eco-design and green public procurement,” according to Palmer-Jones.

Palmer-Jones also wrote: “In order for member states to report their performance and achievement of the set recycling targets on a comparable basis, harmonised data gathering, reporting and definitions are a pre-requisite.”

He concluded: “Our industry is very keen to work with the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the other European institutions to make the proposal as practical and effective as we can.

“Above all, we urge that the coherence of the circular economy package is not compromised, but is properly reflected in the Commission Work Programme under consideration.”

Liz Gyekye

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