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MEPs “keep up pressure” on circular economy reform

June 25, 2015

European politicians urged the European Commission (EC) to “follow through” on circular economy reforms.EU Commission

Letsrecycle reported on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety’s meeting on 18 June, in which MEPs “endorsed a resolution” that urges the EC to “follow through on its pledge” to create a new circular economy policy before the end of the year. 56 of the MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, which will go before the whole parliament at the start of July.

The EC revealed in January that it would ditch its circular economy package despite objections from the EU parliament and environment ministers; with sources stating that “the final decision has been taken and nothing could be foreseen that would change the executive’s mind at this stage”. It then released a 12-week public consultation in late May for its “ambitious new approach” to a circular economy and “the main policy options which […] will feed into the development” of an “ambitious new approach” to the circular economy.

Earlier in May the Commission “promis[ed] a better and even more environmentally-friendly alternative proposal”, to come later this year, aiming to deliver “a clear and ambitious political vision combined with effective policy tools [to] drive real change”. The consultation will take place until 20 August 2015 and the public, authorities, businesses and “governmental and non-governmental parties” will contribute, alongside a stakeholder conference in Brussels on 25 June.

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Letsrecycle noted that the recent meeting saw MEPs vote to “impose binding waste-reduction targets, application of pay-as-you-throw measures by member states and a landfill ban on biodegradeable waste and waste by 2025”. However, it also noted that despite the plans being changed from the original circular economy package, the resolution voted for “lends continued support” to previous proposals in the original plan anyway.

Among points supported by the resolution are “set extended producer responsibility requirements”; “prioritise separate collection schemes”; “increase municipal recycling targets to 70 percent”; “introduce a total landfill ban by 2030”; and “introduce fees for landfilling and incineration”.

Sirpa Pietikäinen the Finnish MEP “responsible for the resolution”, commented: “It is a vital step for the EU to use resources more efficiently and to reduce our resource dependency and also to bring savings in material costs. Smart ecodesign of products also bears in mind repairing, reusing and recycling products. As Europe is more dependent on imported resources than any other region in the world, moving towards a circular economy is an economic and ecological win-win scenario.”

Oakdene Hollins, which operates the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse and is leading the EC’s European Remanufacturing Network, discussed the policies and changes it would like the EU to consider, as did industry association ETIRA, which revealed that it is “doing informal lobbying to promote reuse” with the commission. The association argues that “reuse should receive a higher priority than it has today” and that existing “eco-friendly policies are often merely a piece of paper: they fail to deliver a tangible increase in the reuse of products”.

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