European Parliament Urges Circular Economy Move
In a move to bring the topic of circular economy back to the EU table, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) has urged the Commission to finally address issues of waste reduction and recycling.
In particular, the committee urges the EU’s governing body to present concepts for separate collecting schemes to promote the use of secondary raw materials, an increase in recycling targets to at least 70% of municipal solid waste, introduction of a ban on landfilling of recyclable and biodegradable waste by 2025 and a ban on all landfilling by 2030.
“Moving toward a circular economy is an economic and ecological win-win scenario,” lead MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, author of the ENVI resolution, “especially as Europe is more dependent on imported resources than any other region of the world.”
In late 2014, the newly elected EU leadership placed development of a plan for a circular economy on its agenda for 2015 but withdrew it shortly afterward, saying it planned to replace it with “more ambitious” legislation.
Up to mid-year, no concept has been presented.
As part of the focus on waste control, the environment MEPs also called for a review of EU product policy and eco-design standards by the end of 2015. Key to product design, they said, should be durability, reparability, reusability and recyclability and the elimination of “planned obsolescence.”
Producers of plastics, one of the principal products ending up in EU waste streams, welcomed the committee’s reduction targets. The industry association PlasticsEurope said that more attention to waste reduction and recycling would bring the producers’ Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2025 project “a step closer” to reality.
At the same time, the plastics grouping expressed doubt about the feasibility of ENVI’s eco-design proposals. Modern food packaging often consists of a multi-layer film made out of different plastics, which is hard to recycle, but nevertheless offers “huge benefits” for both people and planet,” said PlasticsEurope’s executive director, Karl-H. Foerster.
“If such packaging were not available, food producers would have to use far more material in order to provide the high level of protection required, thereby increasing its environmental footprint,” Foerster suggested.