Each one of the EU’s citizens produces an average of 481 kilograms of waste every year. What should be done with it? The European Union (EU) is aiming to find a harmonized recovery strategy – since the nations involved continue to adopt highly disparate approaches. In France, for example, there are still landfills for residential waste, something that has long since been banned in Germany. Denmark favors waste incineration, while other member states opt for a dual system. Nonetheless, comparable standards are on the way, under the aegis of the European Circular Economy Package (CEP).
European Council, European Parliament and European Commission want harmonized guidelines and calculation methods designed to enable recycling to be improved and the data meaningfully compared. But it is difficult to reconcile the disparate interests involved: while some of the member states want to continue dumping household waste on landfills for the time being, others see great potential in recycling and in high-class recovery.
Under the CEP’s current proposal, by the year 2030, all members of the EU are to recover 65 percent of their residential waste, recycle 75 percent of their packaging waste, and deposit not more than ten percent of residential waste on landfills. Proposals are currently being discussed for six draft bills –including directives on electrical and electronic waste, used vehicles and batteries. Also addressed are the separate collection of bio-waste and textiles, and waste avoidance in general.
As an experienced protagonist, Der Grüne Punkt supports higher recycling quotas and eco-design. The goal is a genuinely closed-cycle economy, one that repeatedly re-uses the raw materials contained in products instead of simply producing waste.
Good for the natural environment and for the business community
High hopes are being vested in the Circular Economy Package: it is designed to increase resource productivity, to create two million new jobs, and to downsize environmental impact. In order to achieve this throughout Europe, binding political stipulations are needed – and at the same time incentives for companies to design their products for sustainability, so as to progress waste avoidance.
The European Commission is also working on a plastics strategy, tasked with returning more recyclables to the economy. In this context, the Commission has announced its intention to amend the legislation governing packages that come into contact with foods and beverages and to put in place arrangements for using recyclates. This could open up new perspectives for plastics recycling.
Further pan-European goals
- Fewer landfills by 2030
- Harmonized definitions and calculation methods for recycling quotas
- Encouraging re-use
- Economic incentives for eco-design