The European Recycling Industries' Confederation urges EU decisionmakers to introduce minimum recycled content requirements for new products in order to offset the adverse impacts of proposed changes to EU waste export legislation on recycling markets. Such measures would ensure greater uptake of recycled raw materials in Europe and were needed as proposed EU rules on transfrontier waste shipments "seek to excessively limit exports" of waste destined for recycling in countries outside of the trading bloc, according to the industry organisation. Euric stresses that its members are not opposed to bans on the export of problematic wastes, such as mixed plastics, to destination countries outside Europe. However, "indiscriminate restrictions will suppress demand for high-value recycled materials such as metals and paper," the umbrella group points out.
"If members of the European Parliament want to ensure waste is recycled in Europe, they must enshrine binding targets for the use of recycled materials in intermediate products such as metals, paper, and plastics,” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Euric's secretary general. "If export prohibitions go ahead, high-value materials destined for recycling will instead pile up in landfills or end up incinerated. Polluting extracted raw materials will have an advantage over recycling in the absence of appropriate market conditions,” Mr Katrakis added.
At present, only about 12 per cent of materials used in EU production come from recycling and proposed export prohibitions would reduce this share even further, according to Euric. The organisation argues that mandatory recycled content targets could instead stimulate market demand in the EU, reduce the EU's dependence on raw material imports, and "thereby stimulate a truly European circular economy that prevents drastic amounts of CO2 emissions".
To date, single-use beverage bottles made of PET are the only product for which the EU has established recycled content requirements. Beginning in 2025, bottles must contain at least 25 per cent recycled plastic, according to the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) adopted in 2019. The threshold will be raised to 30 per cent in 2030.
The EU Parliament's working group for the legislative proposal to revise the Waste Shipments Regulation (WSR) met this week to continue its work to draft compromise amendments. The Parliament's Environment Committee is expected to vote on the proposal in November at the earliest, the plenary vote may follow in December or next year. In parallel, the EU Council is working on a detailed review of the EU Commission's proposal.