European Compostnetwork ECN



Organics Recycling and the Return of Compost to Soils Delivers Fundamental Solution to Climate Change, Food Security and Resource Management around the World, declares international network of organics recycling advocates

icawEuropean Compost Network,
Composting & Anaerobic Digestion Association of Ireland,
Australian Organics Recycling Association,
The Compost Council of Canada
and the US Composting Council
join in common voice during
International Compost Awareness Week 2016
to encourage the recycling of organic residuals and compost use
for improved soil health and climate change mitigation

Recycling organic residuals instead of throwing them in the garbage is the first step to capturing the full potential that these under-recognized resources can play to address a wide range of current global environmental issues. And on the occasion of International Compost Awareness Week 2016 (May 1 - 7), a global network of organizations, devoted to organics recycling and compost use, are combining their efforts to bring attention to the multiple benefits to be realized when organic residuals are viewed as resources rather than waste. read more....


A unique opportunity to use the untapped potential of biowaste

ECN Position Paper on EU Circular Economy

The European Compost Network (ECN) welcomes the legislative proposals presented in the ‘Circular Economy Package’, released by the European Commission on 2 December 2015, as a key milestone for resource efficiency and the achievement of a truly circular economy in Europe.

circular_economyECN generally agrees with the ambitions set out in the proposal. In particular, we welcome Article 22, which emphasizes the need for separate collection and recycling of biowaste. Biowaste comprises of up to 50% of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in Member States: separate collection and recycling of biowaste is crucial to meet the overall MSW recycling rates specified in Article 11(2).

The proposals for amendments to the Waste Framework and the Landfill Directives will in our view contribute to better sorting and recycling of biowaste. However, the following aspects should be considered carefully by co-legislators, in order to reap the full benefits of biowaste recycling:

  • The limitations introduced in the provisions on the separate collection and recycling of biowaste should be removed, to ensure that the separate collection and recycling remains the rule.
  • A specific recycling target of 65% by 2025 should be introduced for biowaste, along with a residual waste minimization target and appropriate incentives.
  • A separate collection target should be introduced for biowaste from industries.
  • Waste codes should be introduced for biowaste.
  • A separate collection target should be introduced for biowaste from industries.
  • Waste codes should be introduced for biowaste.

The corresponding document is available here.


ECN Annual Meeting 2016 at GORC 2016

In advance of the GORC 2016 conference (Dublin, Ireland) organised by Cré in partnership with the European Compost Network, the ECN Annual Meeting 2016 will take place. The meeting is scheduled on the 2 May from 15:00h to 18:00h and is located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Dublin Airport.

On the 4 May in the same location, the Joint Task Group meeting on Quality Assurance, Growing Media and Fertiliser, takes place from 09:00h-12:30h.

Deadline for Registration: 22 April 2016.


GORC 2016 (3-4 May 2016)

GORC will bring together stakeholders to discuss the latest commercial and technical developments, challenges and future circular bioeconomy opportunities in the biological treatment of organic resources and the sustainable use of its products. The GORC programme boasts high profile speakers and highly topical presentations with ample Q&A sessions and networking opportunities.
The latest speaker confirmed is Eric Liégeois of DG GROW, European Commission who will speak on the recently published draft EU Fertiliser Regulations.

The full programme is available here.


Presentation of conference on separate collection in Europe available


On January 29, Municipal Waste Europe together with EUROCITIES and the European Commission organised the conference "Separate Waste Collection in the Context of a Circular Economy in Europe". After a general part on Circular Economy policy with speakers from the EU Commission (Kestutis Sadauskas, Director Green Economy Directorate, DG ENV, and Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment and Fisheries) the Commission study ‘Assessment of separate collection schemes in the 28 capitals of the EU’ was presented. Examples for separate collection in small, medium and large towns were given in the next part, followed by an interesting debate on implementation of separate collection.


As part of the conference a brochure was presented with the key results of the benchmarking study on the separate waste collection systems in small cities and towns across Europe. The brochure includes infographics, piecharts and tables depicting the statistical data collected from members participating in the study.

The brochure can be downloaded here.

The presentations from all speakers are available for download here.


ECN Policy Officer: Promoting separate collection of biowaste to boost European Circular Economy

ECN Job Vacancy

We are looking for a consultant or self-employed contractor, based in Brussels, to support ECN’s European policy work to foster separate collection of biowaste in the European Circular Economy for Europe.

The European Compost Network ( is the leading European membership organisation promoting sustainable recycling practices in composting, anaerobic digestion and other biological treatment processes of organic resources.

ECN wishes to establish a permanent presence in Brussels, such as to strengthen its advocacy activities at European institutions. To lead this, ECN is looking for an EU policy officer on a part time basis.

The full job advertisement is available here.

If you are interested, please send an application including your CV to

Deadline for applications is 12 February 2016.


Implementation of Separate Collection of Biowaste will contribute to Europe’s Circular Economy

Response by First Vice-President

On 18 January 2016, the European Compost Network ECN received the response by Europe’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans on its letter to strengthen separate collection of biowaste in the new proposed Circular Economy Package.

poster_circleThe First Vice-President Timmermans outlined in his letter that with the proposal to amend Article 22 of the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC Member States have to ensure separate collection of biowaste, where technically, environmentally and economically practicable, biowaste will contribute to achieve a more circular economy in Europe. Besides this, the Commission has announced to provide common EU standards for organic fertilisers from compost and digestate to facilitate the use of biowaste in the EU by revising the EU regulation on fertilisers. The European Compost Network will follow up the discussion with the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament in the next month.

The response of the First Vice-President is available here.


Report on separate collection schemes in the 28 capitals of the EU published

EU Commission - DG ENV

The European Commission has assigned BiPRO GmbH to elaborate in cooperation with the Copenhagen Research Institute (CRI) the implementation of separate collection schemes in EU Member States with focus on EU capital cities, as of 2015 Member States are obliged to separately collect paper, glass, metal and plastic with a view to foster high quality recycling of these materials.

final_report_28Now, the study ‘Assessment of separate collection schemes in the 28 capitals of the EU’ has been published, and is available for download here:

Besides the final report, 28 country and 28 capital factsheets including more detailed information on country / capital level can be accessed here:

The study on separate collection in capital cities will be presented at the conference ‘Separate collection in the Context of a Circular Economy in Europe’ organised by Municipal Waste Europe, EUROCITIES and the European Commission on Friday 29 January 2016 in Brussels. The progamme is available here.


Biowaste at Heart of Europe’s Recycled Circular Economy Package

EU Policy

A year has passed since the European Commission’s first vice president, Frans Timmermans, called a halt to the Commission’s Roadmap to a Circular Economy; a decision that caught many in the waste industry by surprise. The new package, published on 2 December, sets out a revised and ‘more ambitious’ proposal, including the provision for the separate collection of biowaste.

The new Circular Economy Package is claimed to ‘boost competitiveness, create jobs and generate sustainable growth’. Revisions to the Waste Framework Directive, Landfill, Packaging and Batteries Directives have been proposed, which collectively will increase recycling and reduce waste sent to landfill.

New targets

Overall the package sets out new targets for recycling and landfilling waste, including:

  • A common EU target for recycling municipal waste of 65% by 2030;.
  • A common EU target for recycling packaging waste of 75% by 2030;.
  • Material-specific targets for different packaging materials; and.
  • A binding landfill reducon target of 10% by 2030.

These are accompanied by measures to simplify and harmonise definitions and calculation methods, as well as creating incentives through Horizon 2020 and structural funds.

Separate Bio-Waste Collections

For many years ECN has lobbied for the inclusion of bio-waste targets in the revised package, so it is with some relief that Arcle 22 in the Waste Framework Direcve will be revised to specify that: 'Member States shall ensure the separate collecon of biowaste where technically, environmentally and economically praccable and appropriate to ensure the relevant quality standards for compost and to aain the targets set out in’ the municipal waste recycling targets. Despite falling short of seng specific biowaste recycling targets, ECN’s Stefanie Siebert notes that: ‘This is a significant step forward for Europe. The requirement placed on all Member States to collect biowaste separately for both composting and anaerobic digestion will mean that even more organic carbon and plant nutrients will be recycled and put back onto Europe’s soils’. ECN’s Quality Assurance Scheme is set to play a major role in ensuring the recycling of quality compost and digestate to soils.

This provision is also accompanied by a change in the definition of biowaste, to increase its scope to include ‘waste with similar biodegradability properties that is comparable in nature, composition and quantity’. This is in addition to the existing definition which covers ‘biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, restaurants, caterers and retail premises, comparable waste from food processing plants’.

Reducing food waste

Revisions to the Waste Framework Directive also requires Member States to halve food waste by 2030, in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable   Development.   In   aims to ‘prevent food waste in primary production, in processing and manufacturing, in retail and other distribution of food, in restaurants and food services as well as in households’. In addition, ‘Member States should establish specific food waste prevention measures and should measure progress in food waste reduction’.


It is unclear, at present, how these changes will affect potential quantities of bio-waste available for collection. Coupled with proposed revisions to the Fertiliser Regulation (see Fertilisers Regulation Update) which are expected to be finalised in 2016, the new package seems likely to boost quality composting and anaerobic digestion across the EU. ECN will provide further analysis and updates in the New Year.

The Circular Economy Package, including briefing notes and draft Directives, can be accessed: here



Fertilisers Regulation Update

EU Commission News

The EU Fertilisers Regulation has been under review for a number of years, with seemingly little progress. The publication in late October ofa ‘Roadmap’, signals the EU Commission’s desire to finalize changes during 2016.

The Roadmap sets out the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) plans for revising the Fertilisers Regulation (EC) No. 2003/2003. It is stated that the initiative will extend the scope to include secondary and organic resources and to facilitate the cross-border market for all fertiliser materials and secondary raw materials. These include:

  • Compost and digestate (based on the technical proposal for end-of waste criteria for compost and digestate published in the JRC report in 2014);
  • Biomass ash;
  • Struvite; and
  • Biochar.

These changes are in keeping with the Commission’s Circular Economy Package, noting that: ‘The Fertilisers Regulation revision aims at establishing a regulatory framework enabling production of fertilisers from recovered biowastes and other secondary raw materials. This would boost domestic sourcing of plant nutrients which are essential for a sustainable European agriculture, including the critical raw material phosphorus.’

Optional Harmonisation

At a meeting held on 27 November, the Commission discussed these revised proposals, although text of the revised Regulation was not made available. The Commission suggested following an ‘optional harmonisation’ approach, where producers of fertilisers may choose to follow the requirements of the Regulation and market their products as ‘EU Fertilisers’, or continue to market their products under national rules. In practice, this means that the two systems may operate in parallel. Notably only waste materials where end-of-waste criteria have   been established will be eligible as input materials.

The structure (architecture) of the revised proposals presented at the meeting indicated that different ‘component material categories’ (i.e. input materials) will be subjected to different safety requirements. For compost and waste-derived digestate, the input materials, processing methods and product quality will be subject to end-of-waste criteria based on the final proposals made by the JRC in 2014. Digestate derived from non-waste crops will be subjected to internal producer control through self-certification.

New Proposal in 2016

The text of the revised Regulation is currently with the Commission’s legal services. It is anticipated that there will be a further stakeholder consultation in 2016 before the final legislative proposal is sent to the Parliament and Council.

The Roadmap can be accessed: here


Carbon, Nutrients & Soil

ISWA Task Force Project

The value of carbon in compost and digestate is largely ignored, according to a recent report published by the International Solid Waste Association in November. The report, authored by ECN co-founder Dr Jane Gilbert, was one in a series of publications addressing resource management and the circular economy.

carbonThe project was carried out by the ISWA Task Force on Resource Management, who investigated the flows and consumption of secondary raw materials as part of a circular economy. In total, six reports have been published, each accompanied by a short video of the author describing their work. The package was officially launched at a seminar in Brussels on 3 November at the offices of the European Economic and Social Committee.

Report 4 focusses specifically on Carbon, Nutrients and Soil. It provides an overview of the potential quantities of organic wastes produced by OECD countries every year, then makes estimates of how much nitrogen and carbon they contain. It describes how they can be extracted, modified or transformed through biorefining/ biotechnology processes into a range of different products, including high value bio-based speciality chemicals, commodity chemicals and lower value compost/digestate.

Recognising the importance of soils and the continued loss of soil organic matter, the report stresses the need for the value of organic carbon in compost and digestate to be quantified. At present, only about 30% of the fertilizing potential in compost/digestate is realised in sales, whilst the benefits of carbon and the improvements they can make to soil are largely ignored.

The report concludes that in order to realise the untapped potential benefits of organic wastes in OECD countries, separate collection schemes need to be extended and contaminant removal improved. Organic waste processing to manufacture valuable bio-based products will require an improvement in skills and technical competencies,   coupled   with   effactive communications.

Copies of the reports can be accessed: here

The ECN Presentation on the Role of Biowaste in the Emerging Circular Economy can be downloaded: here


Bio-Nutrients and Organic Carbon Recycling are essential components of a Circular Economy

151123_BSAG_EBA_ECN_ESPP Jont position paper circular economy-001BSAG/EBA/ECN/ESPP Joint Statement

On 23 November representatives of the European Compost Network (ECN), the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG), the European Biogas Association (EBA) and the European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP) met the Vice-President of the European Commission for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Mr Jyrki Katainen, to raise the importance of bio-nutrients and organic carbon recycling for a circular economy in Europe.

Bio-nutrients and organic carbon recycling is a core aspect in a circular economy with benefits for the environment and opportunities for innovation and job creation. The stakeholders stressed that a European Circular Economy Action Plan is crucial, and that an integrated European policy framework is essential to facilitate sustainable bio-nutrient and organic carbon recycling. As a follow-up action the four organisations signed a joint statement, which was sent to the Vice-President and to the Members of the European Parliament.

The BSAG-EBA-ECN-ESSP joint statement can be downloaded here.


Separate Collection and End-of-Waste Criteria for Biowaste – Essential to Drive forward Europe’s Circular Economy

ECN letter to EU Commission

Expecting the publication of the new Circular Economy Action Plan and the new proposal for the revision on waste legislation in December 2015 the European Compost Network took the chance to underline the importance of a new and more ambitious proposal for the biowaste sector by sending an open letter to the Vice-Presidents and Commissioners.

Based on the ECN position statement the letter is focussing on the resource potential of biowaste and the relevance of setting up a comprehensive product-waste policy in Europe. Legal drivers like the obligation to introduce separate collection of biowaste in all Member States and setting up European end-of-waste criteria for compost and digestate are needed for the development of a sustainable waste management Europe and achieving a Circular Economy in Europe. Besides the beneficial effects on resource management, the management of biowaste will have as well positive effects on job creation. With the expansion of separate collection and management of biowaste more than 30.000 jobs could be created, mainly locally, in Europe.

The ECN Letter to the Vice- Presidents and the Commissioners can be downloaded here.



ORBIT 2016, 25-28 May 2016 Crete (GR)


ECN’s next ORBIT conference will be held in Heraklion, Crete on 25th to 28th May 2016. Focussing on the ‘Circular Economy and Organic Waste Management’, it is the tenth biennial conference on Organic Resources and Biological Waste Treatment, signalling 20 years of excellence in scientific research and professional networking.

ORBIT 2016 will be organised by Harokopio University of Athens (Prof. Dr. Katia Lasaridi), the Technological Educational Institute of Crete (Associate Prof. Dr. Thrassyvoulos Manios) and ECN.
The Conference will run parallel oral and poster sessions, with sessions including:

Composting and anaerobic digestion technologies and processes;

  • Food waste prevention;
  • Bio-based economy and the biorefinery concept;
  • MBT: technologies and products;
  • Energy recovery from biomass / biofuels;
  • EU policies and strategies for sustainable organic resources and waste management – the challenge of circular economy; and
  • Climate change, LCA and decision support tools.

Deadline for Early Registration is 29 February 2016.
Further information and registration here.


Roadmap on the Revision of the EU Fertilisers Regulation published

On 22 October 2015, the EU Commission has published the roadmap on the revision of the EU Fertilisers Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003. With this initiative, the Commission aims to create a level playing field for all fertiliser materials and to facilitate the cross-border market for fertilisers from secondary raw materials.

Following up the revision of the EU Fertilisers Regulation is a concrete step forward towards a Circular economy. This initiative will boost investment in production and uptake of effective, safe, innovative fertilisers produced from organic and secondary materials in line with the circular economy model by transforming waste into nutrients for crops. The more efficient recourse of secondary raw materials can offer significant environmental benefits, reduces dependency on import of critical raw materials outside of the EU, as well as an increased variety of high quality fertilising products.

The European Compost Network will follow up the discussion in the EU Fertilisers Working Group. The next meeting is scheduled for 27 November 2015.

The roadmap on the revision of the EU Fertilisers Regulation can be downloaded here.


New Circular Economy Package announced for 2nd December

At the Scottish Resources Conference (8 Oct. 2015) the EC’s Director of Green Economy, Kęsţutis Sadauskas had announced that the European Commission’s (EC) Circular Economy Package will be released on 2 December.

The Commission will put emphasis on separate collection for improving markets for secondary materials by increasing the quality of paper, plastic, glass and metal. Based on the outcome of the public consultation, he underlined that there is a need to act on food waste as well.
The EU Commission is still under pressure since the European Parliament has published its resolution in July asking for providing a ’new proposal on waste legislation’ until the end of 2015.

Download EP Report on resource efficiency here.
Download ECN position statement on EU Circular Economy here.


Circular Economy: European priority – No time to waste!

On 21 October 2015, A.I.C.A., together with ACR+, the European Environmental Bureau and Zero Waste Europe, organised a conference entitled “Circular Economy: European Priority – No time to waste!” at the European Parliament, in Brussels. Supported by several political groups of the European Parliament and co-hosted by MEPs Dario Tamburrano (EFD), Renata Briano (S&D), Benedek Jávor (Greens – EFA) this conference expressed again that the expectations of stakeholders and the European Parliament towards a 'new and more ambitious proposal' on Circular Economy are very high.

Karolina D’Cunha, deputy head of the Unit A1 ‘Eco-innovation and Circular Economy’ of the EU Commission, presented the results of the public consultation on circular economy. The high number of participants (more than 1500 responses) in this consultation showed the relevance of this strategy.

EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella, as invited speaker for closing the conference, highlighted that all stakeholders are in favour of a ’more circular economic model’ for Europe. Stakeholders asked for actions on electronic devices, food, packaging, and for the construction and demolition sector. Furthermore the Commission should consider plastics, critical raw materials and bio-nutrients in the new proposal. The Commissioner underlined that increasing recycling is important for competitiveness and that the revised waste proposal will keep ‘a high level of ambition and will be better adapted to the real-world situation’. Finally he stressed that the Commission is working hard on reinforcing circular economy with the aim to adopt the new strategy by the end of this year.

The speech of EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella is available here.
The results of the public consultation on Circular economy are available here.


Successful Study Tour and Expert Meetings on Food Waste Management in Milan

21 participants from Norway to Greece and a participant from Costa Rica followed the invitation of Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC) and the European Compost Network (ECN) to participate in the two days excursion on presenting separate collection and implementing food waste management in Milan and their surroundings.

The Study Tour group at CIC’s technical offices in Milan, Italy

The Study Tour group at CIC’s technical offices in Milan, Italy

Organised by the Italian Composting and Biogas Association (CIC) the study tour was focussed on the effective implementation of separate collection of food waste in the city of Milan. After the introduction of the household food waste collection system 2012, Milan is today the city with the highest capture rates in food waste collection in Europe. On average 95 kg of food waste are collected per inhabitant and year from door-to-door by using biodegradable plastic bags and bins. In total 130.000 tonnes per year of food waste are delivered to an anaerobic digestion plant with a post-composting step for the production of energy from biogas and high quality compost, QAS certified by CIC. The study

Visiting separate collection of food waste in Milan

Visiting separate collection of food waste in Milan

tour was accompanied by several side visits as visiting the research centre of Novamont in Novara, which is one of the leading producers on biodegradable plastic bags in Europe, and the AD/composting site ‘Montello’ in Bergamo, one of Italy’s jumbo-plant with a treatment capacity of 300.000 tonnes per year. The second day took place in the headquarter of CEM Ambiente, the intercommunal organisation of 49 municipalities in the region of Lombardia. CEM Ambiente is responsible for managing municipal solid waste of 460.000 people since 15 years reaching 70% separate collection of MSW. Presentations were given by CIC’s technical team on how waste collection schemes for food-waste are implemented efficiently and successfully in different municipalities, which costs are related to the systems and how the quality of input materials can be improved by waste analyses. The participants of the Tour actively participated in the exchange of views and technical details with the Italian experts.The third day took place at EXPO 2015, the Universal Exhibition in Milan, where more than 140 countries show the best of their technology focusing on the topic “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”.

Further information available on the CIC website.


Composting plant of the City of Vienna certified with the European Quality Label for Compost

At the SusGro 2015 in Vienna the composting plant Lobau was awarded with the European Quality Label by the Austrian Compost Quality Organisation (KGVÖ). The certificate was handed over by ECN Quality Manager Stefanie Siebert and Horst Müller, General Manager of KGVÖ, in the town hall of Vienna.

From left to right: Andreas Baumgarten (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES), Horst Müller (KGVÖ, AT), Stefanie Siebert (ECN Executive Director), Erich Valentin (Member of the Municipal Council), Wojciech Rogalski (M48, City of Vienna, AT)

From left to right: Andreas Baumgarten (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety AGES), Horst Müller (KGVÖ, AT), Stefanie Siebert (ECN Executive Director), Erich Valentin (Member of the Municipal Council), Wojciech Rogalski (M48, City of Vienna, AT)

The Austrian Compost Quality Assurance Organisation ‘KGVÖ’ has become the fourth European Quality Assurance Organisation awarded with the conformity label of the European Compost Network’s Quality Assurance Scheme for Compost and Digestate (ECN-QAS) in May 2015. With this conformity label ‘KGVÖ’ is entitled to award the European quality label for compost to the participating composting plants. The first composting plant awarded by KGVÖ with the European Quality label of ECN-QAS is the ‘composting plant Lobau’ of the city of Vienna.

Since 1991, biogenic waste is recycled by means of open composting at the Lobau composting plant. This plant has an approved annual capacity of approx. 150.000 tonnes and produces compost of the highest quality class “A+” (according to the Austrian Compost Ordinance), which fulfils the quality criteria of the European Organic Farming Regulation. Biogenic waste is collected from green bins and skips located at Vienna’s 19 waste collection centres as well as via green waste collection (trees and shrubs). About 80.000 green bins were installed across Vienna’s less densely inhabited zones with numerous gardens, usually directly on the properties. Only plant matter is collected: tree and shrub cuttings, leaves, lawn clippings, windfall fruit and plants. Waste of animal origin such as meat products, eggs, bones or food scraps are disposed of as residual waste (in case of households) or as the contents of specially designated kitchen waste bins (catering industry). Since 2002 the composting plant Lobau has been certified with the Austrian Compost Quality label of Kompostgüteverband Österreich (Austrian Compost Quality Society, KGVÖ).
Now with the ECN-QAS quality label for compost Vienna is the first capital in Europe producing compost according to the harmonised European quality standard of ECN-QAS.

Further information about the composting plant Lobau:

Further information about ECN-QAS:


DG Environment’s new Director General Daniel CALLEJA Y CRESPO

The new Director General of DG Environment (DG ENV) Mr Calleja y Crespo from Spain has a very broad experience, hence having worked in the Commission in many different areas since 1986. His background is in Law and Business Administration.

Mr Calleja y Crespo

Before joining DG ENV on 1 September 2015, Mr Calleja was Director General of DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs till 31 August 2015. Previously, from February 2011 to January 2012, he was the Deputy Director General of DG Enterprise and Industry, and Special Envoy for SMEs. Mr Calleja was Director for Air Transport at the European Commission from November 2004 to February 2011, in charge of the single European aviation market, safety and security issues, and its external dimension. He has successfully negotiated, on behalf of the E.U., the EU-US Open Skies Agreement.

Leadership and organisation of DG ENV
DG Environment works under the political leadership of Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and is managed since 01 September 2015 by Director-General Daniel Calleja Crespo. DG Environment has approximately 500 staff members. It is organised in six directorates which are, in turn, divided into thematic units. It shares a resources directorate of around 90 people with DG Climate Action.


The Role of Biowaste in the Emerging Circular Economy

ECN Position Statement on CE, 19 August 2015

With the response on the first public consultation in the EU consultation process on Circular Economy (CE) ECN has submitted a position paper under the title ‘The Role of Biowaste in the Emerging Circular Economy’. Besides the ecological and economic benefits, which go hand in hand with sustainable biowaste management in Europe, the position paper includes specific proposals for updating the existing waste legislation and policy recommendations for further developments in the biowaste sector.

Recycling biodegradable wastes and resource efficiency lie at the heart of the circular economy. According to the ‘Communication on Future Steps in Bio-Waste Management in the European Union’ (COM(2010)235) the EU produces between 118 and 138 million tonnes of bio-waste each year.

To achieve effective biowaste recycling and drive the development in the right direction throughout the EU and its regions, a coherent EU waste legislation framework in junction with consistent economic instruments and funding policies is needed.

Moving towards a more circular economy needs to be accompanied by updating the existing waste legislation in Europe. Therefore, the European Compost Network calls on the EU to:

  • Set an obligation for implementing separate collection of biowaste in the member states as a guiding principle.
  • Establish targets for biowaste recycling (biowaste recycling targets based on separate collection) as a fundamental and result-oriented driver to secure investment in sustainable recycling of biowaste.
  • Develop clear and well-targeted provisions and harmonized calculation methods in order to help Member state administrations and municipalities to develop integrated recycling schemes.
  • Finalise the end-of-waste criteria for compost and digestate, so as to facilitate further developments of European markets for these products.
  • Develop a comprehensive product – resource-based – waste legislation to support the use of secondary materials recycled from organic waste.

The full position paper on ‘The Role of Biowaste in the Emerging Circular Economy’ is available here.

The full response to the public consultation of ECN is available here.


Issue Paper on ‘Mechanical and Biological Treatment’ published

As an outcome of the work of ECN’s working group ‘Integrated Waste Management, chaired by Enzo Favoino (Scuola Agraria del Parco di Monza), an issue paper on ‘Mechanical and Biological Treatment’ was published in August 2015.

The issue paper describes the three main types and their targets for processing waste mechanically:

  • Aerobic stabilisation
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biological drying

The key features of mechanical biological treatment, like reducing waste to be landfilled and to reduce the biodegradability of waste as well as gaining renewable energy through anaerobic digestion or combustion of Refused Derived Fuels (RDF), are part of this integrated waste management approach.

The ECN issue paper ‘Mechanical and Biological Treatment’ is available here.


EU Parliament adopted resolution on ‘Resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy’

EP Resolution on CE, 9 July 2015

With a vast majority (395 to 197) the Members of the European Parliament adopted the proposals of the EP Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in the plenary on 9 July 2015. This positive vote is a major step forward in the ongoing policy debate and exerts pressure on the Commission to really come up with a ‘more ambitious proposal’ on circular economy and legislative proposals on wastes until the end of this year.

The resolution on ‘Resource efficiency: moving towards a circular economy’ is based on the report of Sirpa Pietikäinen, rapporteur on circular economy of the ENVI Committee, which favours legally-binded targets on waste and resource use. With regard towards zero waste the MEP’s urge the Commission to submit the announced proposal on review of waste legislation by the end of 2015, diligently applying the waste hierarchy, and to include the following points:

  • clear and unambiguous definitions;
  • developing waste prevention measures;
  • setting binding waste reduction targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste to be achieved by 2025;
  • setting clear minimum standards for extended producer responsibility requirements;
  • applying the ‘pay-as-you-throw-principle’ for residual waste combined with mandatory separate collection schemes for paper, metal, plastic and glass in order to facilitate the high quality of recycling materials;
  • introducing mandatory separate collection for biowaste by 2020;
  • increasing recycling/preparation for reuse targets to at least 70 % of municipal solid waste and 80 % recycling of packaging waste by 2030, based on a solid reporting method preventing the reporting of discarded waste (landfilled or incinerated) as recycled waste, using the same harmonised method for all Member States with externally verified statistics; an obligation for recyclers to report on the ‘input‘ quantities of waste going into the sorting plant as well as on the ‘output‘ quantity of recyclates coming out of the recycling plants;
  • strictly limiting incineration, with or without energy recovery, by 2020, to non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste;
  • a binding, gradual reduction of all landfilling, implemented in coherence with the requirements for recycling, in three stages (2020, 2025 and 2030), leading to a ban on all landfilling, except for certain hazardous waste and residual waste for which landfilling is the most environmentally sound option;
  • encouraging Member States to introduce charges on landfilling and incineration.

Full adopted text of the European Parliament is available: here.



Report on ‘The Role of Biowaste in the Emerging Circular Economy’ published

EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development

As an outcome of the policy debate on ‘the role of biowaste in the emerging circular economy’ the European Parliament’s Intergroup on ‘Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’ (EP CCBSD) has published a final report.

The topic was initiated and supported by the European Compost Network and more than 100 participants followed the debate. Stakeholders highlighted the key role that biowaste will have in the emerging circular economy and called upon EU decision-makers to support the proper management of biowaste as it will contribute to a more sustainable and resource-efficient Europe.

The related documents of the policy debate (like the ECN position paper on Circular Economy) can be downloaded from the website of the EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development: Link to EPCCBSD or the ECN website.







Stakeholder Conference, 25 June 2015

Key messages on CE Conference ‘Closing the Loop' published

As part of the process to develop a more ambitious circular economy package, the European Commission organised a circular economy conference in Brussels on 25 June 2015. The circular economy package due in late 2015 will lay out the opportunities for green growth and build on previous EU resource efficiency and innovation initiatives.

More than 700 participants followed the discussion at the Circular Economy Conference on 25 June in Brussels. The conference consisted of an opening plenary (keynote and panel discussion), a series of break-out sessions addressing specific aspects of the circular economy, and a closing panel with institutional representatives.
It was opened by Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and closed by Vice-President Jyrki Katainen. It included contributions from the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska and Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella.
The key conclusions of the debate will feed into the public consultation on Circular Economy (closing date 20 August) and on waste markets (closing date 4 September). The new package is expected to be adopted by the end of this year.
The presentations from plenary and individual sessions and the key conclusions are available on the website of the European Commission:

The opening and closing speeches can be read here: F. Timmermans, K. Vella, J. Katainen


Successful workshop on ‘The Role of Biowaste in the Emerging Circular Economy’

EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development

scale_Foto_dalli_JVH_textOn 24 June 2015 the European Parliament’s Intergroup on ‘Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’ (EP CCBSD) has organised a policy debate on ‘the role of biowaste in the emerging circular economy’, which is a valuable resource for growth and job creation in Europe.  The topic was initiated and supported by the European Compost Network and more than 100 participants followed the debate. Stakeholders highlighted the key role that biowaste will have in the emerging circular economy and called upon EU decision-makers to support the proper management of biowaste as it will contribute to a more sustainable and resource-efficient Europe.

Miriam Dalli, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Circular Economy Working Group of the EP Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” chaired this event, which was held at the European Economic and Social Committee.
“Sustainable management of biowaste plays a key role in implementing the circular economy and in achieving a resource-efficient Europe,” said John van Haeff, Chair of European Compost Network. Further, biowaste has an enormous resource potential contributing to healthier soils and renewable energy while creating jobs.
The meeting presented best practices including the benefits of collecting biowaste and the importance of implementing separate collection schemes as well as moving away from large scale landfills. It was also highlighted that Member States have diverging policies and varying levels of implementation calling for better enforcement.
Representatives from the European Commission highlighted that “the value of biowaste as a resource is recognised and improvements must be made towards creating a market for secondary materials in Europe.” Sofie Bouteligier of the Public Waste Agency of Flanders further emphasised “the need for a coherent European framework,” as this would align relevant policies and ensure better management of biowaste.
It was stressed that all stakeholders should participate in the ongoing public consultation on the circular economy launched by the European Commission in May to ensure that all views are considered. It was further called upon the Commission to keep all stakeholders involved throughout the process and implementation of the circular economy framework.

The press release, all presentations and background information (like the ECN position paper on Circular Economy) can be downloaded from the website of the EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development: here.logo_ECC



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