European "Green Deal“ needs to tap the potential of waste legislation

The EU Parliament calls for an "ambitious" new
action plan for the circular economy
16.01.2020 − 

To deliver a CO2 neutral EU by 2050, the EU Commission needs to look beyond climate and energy legislation and also take advantage of the potential of other existing EU legislation, according to the EU Parliament. In a resolution on the "European Green Deal", it highlighted EU waste legislation, the Ecodesign Directive and circular economy-related measures among the areas through which the Commission could act to reach its zero net emissions goal.

The Parliament called for " an ambitious new circular economy action plan, which must aim to reduce the total environmental and resource footprint of EU production and consumption". While providing strong incentives for innovation, sustainable businesses and markets for "climate-neutral and non-toxic circular products", the plan must also maintain "resource efficiency, zero pollution and waste prevention" as key priorities, according to the text adopted by the Parliament on Wednesday.

Binding targets for the use of recycled raw materials

EU legislators also called on the Commission to propose targets for "separate collection, waste reduction, reuse and recycling". The Parliament also calls for "other specific actions such as extended producer responsibility, in priority sectors such as commercial waste, textiles, plastics, electronics, construction and food". They likewised urged the Commission to develop measures to support the market for recycled materials in Europe. Suggested approaches include common quality standards, as well as mandatory targets for the use of recovered materials in priority sectors "where feasible".

Measures to address plastic waste and imported products containing banned substances

The parliamentary resolution also underlines the importance of "developing non-toxic material cycles" and stepping up the substitution of substances of very high concern. It also calls on the Commission to consider measures to address imported products containing substances or components that are banned in the EU. These " should not be reintroduced on the EU market in consumer products through recycling activities".

The European Parliament also called for further action against plastic pollution and for additional restrictions on single-use plastic items. The EU legislators also supported the development of legislation to address "over-packaging" and to ban packaging that is neither reusable or recyclable "in an economically viable manner" by 2030, "while ensuring food safety". The resolution also calles for cross-border coordination of deposit return systems.

The "European Green Deal" was presented by the Commission in December and met with broad support in the EU Parliament. The resolution was adopted with 482 votes in favour, 136 votes opposed and 95 abstentions.

The full report on the EU Parliament's position appears in EUWID Recycling and Waste Management 2/2020, out on 22 January.

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