EU Commission: 70% Recycling by 2030 & Landfill Bans by 2025

The European Commission has today adopted proposals to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling of municipal solid waste to 70% by 2025.

The European Commission has today adopted proposals to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling of municipal solid waste to 70% by 2025.

The Commission claimed that achieving the new waste targets would create 580,000 new jobs compared to today's performance, while making Europe more competitive and reducing demand for costly scarce resources.

The proposals are also said to mean lower environmental impacts and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan calls for Europeans to recycle 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging waste by 2030, and bans the landfilling of recyclable material 2025. A target is also included for reducing marine litter along with food waste reduction objectives.

Closing the circle

The review to strengthen waste targets in existing directives is put in the context of an ambitious drive towards fundamental transition from a linear to a more circular economy.

Instead of extracting raw materials, using them once and throwing them away, the Commission said that its vision is for a different economic model. In a circular economy, re-use, repair and recycling become the norm, and waste is a thing of the past.

This approach was set out in a Communication which explained how innovation in markets for recycled materials, new business models, eco-design and industrial symbiosis can move the EU towards a zero-waste economy and society.

"We are living with linear economic systems inherited from the 19th Century in the 21st Century world of emerging economies, millions of new middle class consumers, and inter-connected markets,” commented Environment Commissioner Janez Potonik.

“If we want to compete we have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills,” he continued.

Moving to a circular economy is not only possible, it is profitable, but that does not mean it will happen without the right policies. The 2030 targets that we propose are about taking action today to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and exploiting the business and job opportunities it offers," concluded the Commissioner.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn added: "Research and innovation are the keys to success for the Circular Economy, which is why we are proposing a joined-up approach today.”

“Alongside a supportive regulatory framework, our new Horizon 2020 programme will contribute the know-how necessary to shape a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy in the EU," she continued.

Opportunity

According to the Communication, Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe, new growth and job opportunities will emerge from a more efficient use of resources.

It was said that this increased efficiency will itself be driven by innovative design, better performing and more durable products and production processes, forward-looking business models and technical advances to turn waste into a resource.

As part of the circular economy package, the Commission also adopted a legislative proposal to review recycling and other waste-related targets in the EU.

The Commission explained that the package that accompanied the Communication aims to create a framework to help the circular economy become a reality, with policies that are better inter-linked, smart regulation and active support from research and innovation.

This, it was said, will unlock investment and attract financing while promoting a strong role for business and participation by consumers.

The package also suggests that resource productivity should be measured on the basis of GDP/Raw Material Consumption, and that an improvement of 30% by 2030 could be considered as a possible candidate for a headline target in the forthcoming review of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The Commission added that these initiatives are adopted simultaneously with complementary Communications on:

A Green Employment Initiative A Green Action Plan for SMEs, Resource Efficiency Opportunities in the Building Sector.

Together these will launch a renewed resource efficiency agenda for the coming years.

The legislative proposals will now pass to the Council and the European Parliament.

Progress on achieving the resource productivity target will be monitored in the European Semester of economic governance. Such a target is to be considered in the context of the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

The Commission added that research and innovation efforts in the area of circular economy will be stepped-up. The policy framework for promoting the circular economy will be further developed over the coming years.


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