Groups Take Aim Over German Attempt to Water Down Circular Economy

Environmental Groups Criticise German Government Over Recycling Target Cuts

A number of environmental groups have joined forces in a stinging criticism of the German government’s current proposal to remove the recycling quotas from the EU circular economy package.

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A number of environmental groups have joined forces in a stinging criticism of the German government’s current proposal to remove the recycling quotas from the EU circular economy package.

The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND), Environmental Action Germany (DUH), and the umbrella organisation German League for Nature, Animal and Environment Protection (DNR) criticised the German government’s current attempt to prevent recycling quotas from being increased on a European level.

The organisations claimed to have obtained a paper by the EU circular economy working group in which the German government had attempted to delay the setting of higher recycling quotas because it rejected the calculation method proposed by the EU commission.

In the EU working group, Germany was said to have pushed for the setting of recycling targets for municipal solid waste to be delayed by years.

The organisations warned that Germany – as a self-proclaimed “world champion” in recycling – could be sending a “wrong and devastating signal” to other EU Member States.

The groups went on to urge the German Federal Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, to support the timely setting of the ambitious EU recycling quotas and to withdraw Germany’s current proposal to remove the recycling quotas from the EU circular economy package.

According to the organisations is necessary to set higher recycling quotas in a timely manner so that long-term decisions can be made for investment in building up collection systems, sorting facilities and recycling technologies.

Instead, the current stance of the German government was said to only support a ban on disposing untreated solid wastes into landfill without setting additional recycling targets.

The environmental organisations said that this would only incentivise the construction of more waste to energy plants which they argued  would hinder the building up of a strong recycling industry.

Therefore, they said, Germany also needs to accept the calculation method proposed by the EU Commission that wastes are only considered recycled when they are fed into an end-of-life recycling process – and this includes first sorting out foreign materials and wastes introduced by mistake.

The organisations also argued that in Germany, until now, foreign materials and wastes introduced by mistake have been considered recycled in most of the separately collected domestic waste streams, leading to unrealistically high recycling figures.

The organisations strongly urged the German government “to spare no effort in consistently implementing the EU waste hierarchy and striving towards ambitious goals concerning waste prevention, recyclable waste collection and recycling”.

They also warned that if Germany pushes through their new plan, this will have long-term negative consequences for the circular economy in the EU.

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