EU Circular Economy

With the publication of the European Circular Economy (CE) Package in December 2015 [COM (2015): Circular Economy Strategy Closing the loop] the EU Commission paved the way for a resource-efficient society and sustainable recycling industry across Europe. In addition to setting out an action plan [COM/2015/614 final], the CE Package includes revisions [COM (2015) 595 final 2015/0275 (COD)], [COM (2015) 594 final 2015/0274 (COD)], [COM (2015) 596 f i nal 2015/0276 (COD)], [COM (2015) 5 9 3 final 2015/0272 (COD)] to key EU waste legislation with the aim of avoiding, reusing and recycling more waste in the future.
The Proposals for amendments to waste management legislation include revisions to the EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC), the EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC), the End of Life Vehicles Directive (2000/53/EC), the Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) and the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (2012/19/EC). The main aim of these revisions is to prevent waste arising in the first place, and then to promote its recycling in order to save resources within Europe.

Main elements and targets of the waste proposals

  • A new target of 65% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2030;
  • A new target of 75% of packaging waste to be recycled by 2030;
  • A reduction on the landfilling of municipal waste to a maximum of 10% by 2030;
  • A ban on landfilling separately collected waste;
  • The promotion of economic instruments to reduce waste disposal;
  • The introduction of simplified and improved definitions and harmonized calculation procedures for recycling rates in the EU;
  • The introduction of measures to promote product re-use;
  • The promotion of economic incentives for producers to market more environmentally friendly products; and
  • Support for recycling and recycling systems (e.g. packaging, batteries, electrical and electronic equipment and vehicles).

Of particular relevance to the future development of bio-waste treatment in Europe are the proposed changes to the EU Landfill Directive, namely:

  • to reduce the landfilling of municipal waste to 10% by 2030, and
  • a general ban on the landfilling of separately collected waste.

As Bio-waste is the largest fraction of Europe’s municipal waste stream (comprising, on average, 37% by weight) [EEA Report No. 2/2013. Denmark], the 10% landfill target can only be met through sustainable bio-waste management, including composting and anaerobic digestion.

The proposed ban on the landfilling of separately collected waste needs to be viewed in the context of proposed amendments to the Waste Framework Directive. What is essential is the amendment to Article 22 'Bio-waste', where proposed revisions will oblige Member States to introduce the separate collection of bio-waste as far as is technically, ecologically and economically feasible. Notably, the separate collection of bio-waste is a prerequisite to ensure compliance with quality standards for compost and digestate, as well as contributing towards attaining the 65% municipal waste recycling target. In addition, Member States will be required to introduce appropriate incentives to achieve waste prevention and recycling targets. The introduction and increase of landfill and incineration taxes are intended to contribute to the recycling of waste in accordance with the waste hierarchy.