EU Parliament backs quotas for recycled content

The EU Parliament has its adopted its report
on the Circular Economy Action Plan.
11.02.2021 − 

The European Parliament has adopted its report in response to the EU Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan. With a vote of 574 votes in favour, 22 against and 95 abstentions, the Parliament laid out its own priorities for achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal and signalled the kind of legislation it would like to see proposed by the Commission. The result of the vote was published Wednesday morning. 

In its report, the European Parliament calls for minimum recycled content requirements, an instrument long supported by industry associations. Recyclers believe that quotas for the incorporation of recycled would expand the market for recycled raw materials and enable recyclate to compete on a more even playing field with less environmentally friendly primary raw materials.

The Parliament also stressed the role of public procurement in boosting the market for sustainable products. Brussels legislators urged the Commission to present a legislative proposal on green public procurement procedures, said that "reused, repaired, remanufactured, refurbished products and other energy- and resource-efficient products" should be the default choice in all public procurement. In its report, the Parliament likewise called on member states to maximise and promote the reuse, recycling, and recuperation of materials, including in their procurement strategies and publicly financed renovation and construction projects.

Binding targets for the reduction of residual waste

The EU Parliament stressed the importance of prioritising waste prevention and called on the Commission to set targets capping the generation of residual was as part of the review of the Waste Framework and Landfill Directives, tentatively scheduled for 2024. The European Waste Management Association FEAD rejected the establishment of residual waste caps, saying they were not needed if recycling targets were in place. They also considered them "not feasible in practice".

What to do with waste that cannot be recycled?

While MEPs wish to improve market conditions for recycling outputs and also to create a legal obligation to reduce the amount of residual waste, there is no approach outlined for that unrecyclable waste which will continue to be generated despite improved waste prevention efforts. MEPs do not, for instance, press for an across-the-board ban on the landfilling of untreated municipal waste, but they do make their goal of "minimising incineration" clear. With regard to landfilling of municipal waste, they argue in their resolution that the 10 per cent target for Landfill Directive should be set to a baseline year and per capita waste volume "in order to prevent diversion from landfilling to waste incineration."

The Parliament therefore calls on the Commission to define a common EU-wide approach for the management of residual municipal waste. They express concern that if too much incineration capacity is built in the EU, "that could cause lock-in effects and hamper the development of the circular economy."

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