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EC confirms axing of circular economy plans

January 28, 2015

circular_economy_infographic-300x264European Commission (EC) to go ahead with decision to scrap circular economy plans, despite protests.

CRR (Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse) reported the confirmation of the EC’s decision to ditch its circular economy package despite objections from EU Parliament and environment ministers; with EU sources reportedly telling EurActiv that “the final decision has been taken and nothing could be foreseen that would change the executive’s mind at this stage”.

Citing Darrel Moore of CIWM (Chartered Institution of Wastes Management), CRR stated that “legal procedures to officially ditch the legislation should be completed in the next couple of months”. The package included a 70 percent recycling or reuse target for municipal waste by 2030, as well as a ban on recyclable materials and biodegradable waste being sent to landfill by 2025.

The EC first announced its plans to scrap the package at the end of last year, but asserted that it would be replaced with a new, “more ambitious” proposal by the end of this year. An impact assessment of the circular economy package had shown that 180,000 jobs would have been created across Europe had it been fully implemented, and that its economic potential was €600 billion ($682 billion).

In terms of objections to the EC’s decision to axe the package, political groups were reportedly “unable to agree on the wording of the joint resolution to object to shelving the package” and so “each group tabled its own resolution”. However, none of the resolutions received overall majority support.

FEAD, the European Federation representing the European waste management industry, released a statement reiterating its support for the Commission’s circular economy proposal and “called upon the European Parliament to keep putting political pressure on the Commission to retain the proposal in its Work Programme for 2015”.

Peter Kurth, Vice-President of FEAD, said: “The envisaged targets on waste, recycling and waste prevention are ambitious. Nobody will deny that. And everyone recognises that they will require serious efforts, in particular from the new EU Member States that have only just begun to develop a proper waste management infrastructure.

“There is no doubt that the package has its shortfalls, especially with regard to the financial instruments needed to reach the targets. But no Commission proposal has ever come out of a legislative procedure without amendments and improvements. This is exactly the role of the European Parliament and the Council. To withdraw a legislative proposal welcomed by a large majority in both institutions would be unacceptable.

He added that “for the circular economy package, the political dialogue should be continued without delay, based on the Commission proposal at hand”.

Meanwhile Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), commented: “It is disappointing that the Commission now seems finally to have decided to withdraw the circular economy waste proposals, contrary to the majority view among MEPs and EU Environment Ministers. This will delay the introduction of a clear policy framework beyond 2020 at European level, and the continuing uncertainty over future policy direction will discourage much-needed private sector investment in resource management infrastructure.

“Nevertheless ESA, and its European association FEAD, will continue to work closely with the Commission, the Parliament, and the Member States to help develop the ‘more ambitious’ circular economy package which Vice President Timmermans has promised to re-table later this year.

“This new package will need to retain key elements of the existing proposals, while adding measures to prevent waste and strengthen the markets for recycled and recovered materials.”

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