January 4, 2017
Let’s Recycle reported that the EU Commission (EC) has “outlined its priority policies for 2017”, including that “implementation of the action plan on the circular economy” was “among the top policy areas highlighted”. The circular economy was placed “second to top” in the work programme for 2017, and was earmarked as “a new boost for jobs, growth and investment”. The site added that this showed “the Commission is keen to press ahead with the policy area as a priority”.
The EC reported it would be axing its plans in January 2015, before reconsidering and revealing it would increase funding, launching a public consultation both UKCRA and ETIRA contributed to. However, reports suggested it would dilute any circular economy package, and doubted their potential. Despite this, the new package was launched in December 2015 and adopted that month, with a packaging waste recycling target of 75 percent for member states by 2030.
The package received a funding boost of around €24 billion ($26.3 billion) from the EU soon after, though it “will take more than” a year to implement despite having been said to be “progressing well” in April 2016, before being questioned again in June. The EU also revealed it was planning “tough” enforcement, while other areas warned earlier this year that the package could be seen as a “threat” to certain stakeholders.
One development saw Germany allegedly plan to “call for removal of EU recycling targets”, though rumours suggested the plan could be approved early this year, and recently concerns were raised that it might be “watered down”. In November last year, the Commission approved a further investment of €222.7 million ($246.1 million), while a report analysed business practices. The EU recently met with China to discuss collaboration, and the proposals are “due to be approved by MEPs in early 2017, before further review by the European Council”.
Let’s Recycle added that “discussions are ongoing within” member states to “finalise the package of proposals due to be adopted”, which will “update existing waste and recycling legislation” and includes increasing the “existing recycling target for household waste” from 50 percent in 2020 to 65 percent by 2030.
The site added that the “timing of the agreement and adoption” could be “crucial” for the UK, which is “expected to begin the formal process” of leaving the European Union “before the end of March”, and should it become law “before the UK has formally left”, it is “likely that the UK will need to adopt any measures agreed”. UK ministers have however “already expressed a reluctance” to agree with the 65 percent target, stating that it may be “too high to be achievable”.
On the other hand, the EC “outlined its desire not to see targets watered down”, with Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella stating that it would “regret both lower[ing] the target levels and any attempts to weaken the recycling targets”. On the plan’s implementation, he added that “2017 will be a busy year for the circular economy” with developments set to begin at the end of this month.
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