Mixed feelings from PRE, APEAL, EuPC, BPF

Debate rages on over revised Circular Economy Package

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: PRE
Picture credit: PRE

Related tags Circular economy Recycling European union

The debate surrounding the revised Circular Economy Package rages on as some associations are not happy with the decisions announced while others welcome the changes.

The European Commission adopted the package this month​ to help European businesses and consumers "close the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use. 

'Lacks concrete actions'

But, European Plastics Converters (EuPC) says the level of legal clarity contained in the package is not sufficient to guide companies in Europe and Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE) claims it lacks concrete actions to push plastics recycling. 

On a positive note, APEAL, the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging, said the announcement will help to drive cultural change in the way products are manufactured, used and recycled. 

The transition will receive more than €650m from Horizon 2020 (the EU funding programme for research and innovation) and €5.5bn from structural funds for waste management, and investments in the circular economy at national level. 

There will also be a revised legislative proposal EU targets for reducing waste; recycling rates of 65% of municipal waste by 2030; and 75% of packaging waste by 2030 and a binding landfill target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of all waste by 2030. 

Other measures include a ban on landfilling of separately collected waste; concrete measures to promote re-use and stimulate industrial symbiosis and economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market. 

Alexandre Dangis, managing director, EuPC, said it was hoping for more clarity and harmonisation of the EU waste acquis across EU 28 Member States. 

The calculation methodology remains ambiguous

“We fail to see a harmonised approach in the package and question the level of ambition of this new proposal on provisions on landfilling, EPR schemes and end​‐of​‐waste criteria,​” he added. 

The proposal needs more clarity on the difference between recycling and reuse and the calculation methodology remains ambiguous. 

The proposal also includes economic incentives for producers to put greener products on the market and support recovery and recycling schemes. 

“Plastics converters are constantly innovating to produce more sustainable products and are working on increasing the recovery and recycling of their products in the building and construction sector, packaging sector, automotive and many more​.” 

Antonino Furfari, director, PRE, agreed and said the package lacks concrete actions to push plastics recycling across Europe. 

Recycling targets have been weakened, landfill ban is no longer foreseen, the recycling calculation methodology remains ambiguous, waste exports are not covered and waste sorting and quality is not tackled​,” he said. 

Waste management needs clear guidance to perform efficiently and this facelifted package is lacking concrete actions​.”  

According to Furfari, each step of waste management must be guided to achieve the purpose of the Circular Economy. For instance, sorting waste is a fundamental step to achieve circularity of the materials, but sorting is not defined in any EU legislation. 

This package will need more input from the institutions and stakeholders if growth for Europe is the objective of the Juncker Commission​,” he added. 

Split recycling target for metals

On a more positive note, APEAL believes the new split recycling target for metals will foster greater understanding of the recycling performance of all permanent materials. 

The latest steel recycling figures show an average recycling rate of 75,2% in Europe in 2013, with European countries such as Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary already recycling above 75%. 

This is good news and, we truly believe, a real step forward towards a circular economy in Europe​,” said Alexander Mohr, general secretary, APEAL. 

The package proposes a steel recycling target of 75% by 2025 and 85% by 2030 alongside a whole host of other measures including a progressive landfill ban.

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