President, International Solid Waste Association

VIDEO UPDATE - ISWA Blog: Is 70% Recovery Across the EU Achievable?

David Newman, President of the International Solid Waste Association, questions whether the EU 70% recovery target is economically viable or desirable for Europe, and asks for your feedback on the matter. 

David Newman, President of the International Solid Waste Association, questions whether the EU 70% recovery target is economically viable or desirable for Europe, and asks for your feedback on the matter...

On October 28th the Council of Europe commented upon the EU “Circular Economy” package and made some substantial criticisms of it.

The Council wondered whether the targets given were actually achievable or we intended to be aspirational; they considered that the cost of achieving 70% overall effective recovery targets of waste to be expensive; they stated that enterprises can achieve greater sustainability and drive down costs through resource management processes and that recovery targets are not the only instrument available; and significantly they made little or no mention of the prevention policies which can be implemented to reduce rather than having to recover waste. 

I have a lot of doubts about the package myself and I would really appreciate your feedback. One or two points I would like to make:

1.      Expra’s interesting analysis demonstrates that, to meet the packaging waste effective recovery targets by 2030, more packaging waste would have to be collected and treated than is actually put onto the market. I think this is unlikely to happen.

2.      Costs for packaging waste collection, beyond EPR schemes, would rise by more than 100% by 2025 to around 130% by 2030. Is this acceptable? Will it really help Europe’s industry remain competitive on the international market place?

But further than this I think about the quality of recyclates and their marketability. As the recent ISWA report on global waste markets shows, for some streams we in Europe but also the U.S., are terribly dependent upon China buying the materials. Now China also is beginning serious recycling programmes, for how much longer and for how much more material, will they be our market? And at what cost to citizens and enterprises in Europe are we achieving (in advanced countries) very small incremental increases in recovery levels?

And how will the southern and eastern members of the EU go from recovery levels today of around 15-25% to 70% in just ten years or so? And how will they pay for this?

I ask for your feedback; I don’t have the answers but I do have a lot of doubts and wonder whether the aspirational targets we give are not just a little too high?

On January 8th in Brussels, ISWA and the French association FNADE, will be discussing these matters. Join us there, programme on shortly.

At last week's Ecomondo show in Rimini, WMW took the chance to ask David for is thoughts on the EU recycling targets. You hear what he had to say below.

David Newman is President of the International Solid Waste Association

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