July 9, 2015
The Guardian reported on the leaked paper, in which the Conservative government “opposes new EU waste recycling targets” and “dismisses proposals for binding new EU goals to cut waste and improve recycling”. This course of action, the newspaper warns, is “setting [the UK] on a collision course with Brussels”, with the paper “rubbish[ing] the idea of Europe setting new targets for recycling”.
The measures are said to be “non-negotiable”, according to the EU’s Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella, and “give teeth” to the EU’s plans for the circular economy. The European Commission 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”.
In late June, MEPs were still keeping up the pressure on the reform process, with the consultation now taking place. The UK government document argues that any targets agreed “should be put on ice […] we feel that a greater emphasis needs to be given to other measures such as voluntary agreements with industry and incentives to reward behavioural changes”.
Vella stated that the rules are “essential” to the success of the circular economy in the EU, adding that “we can’t be more ambitious by lowering our targets. We have to maintain those targets. We have to be more ambitious on outlook, results and delivery by member states, and we need to identify the member states that are not achieving those targets”.
The UK is one of the states not meeting the targets, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealing last year that England recycled 44.2 percent of household waste in 2013, only 0.1 percent growth from 2012. Vella added that many of the countries are improving “at varying speeds”, with the eastern and southern nations “performing worst”.
He concluded: “We have to identify those states that are lagging behind, the reasons why, and we have to be more ambitious by supporting them to achieve the targets – by channelling more funds into projects that will achieve them.”
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