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Press Release: Circular Economy Package puts Europe firmly on the Zero Waste track but...

Press release: The circular economy package has put Europe firmly on the track of zero waste, but..

Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) welcomes the circular economy package announced by the European Commission today and acknowledges its good intentions to promote the EU towards zero waste.

As a network of local zero-waste groups and more than 300 European cities, ZWE is at the forefront of European waste management practices, so it can prove the feasibility of the new benchmarks established by the European Commission.

ZWE especially praised;

Achieve 70% of the new recycling target by 2030, which means that to achieve this target, waste separation collection should always reach a higher level

Clarify the understanding of recycling-by excluding discards from the recycling process-

The new packaging waste recycling target is 80%

Mandatory separate collection of organic matter by 2025,

The goal of reducing food waste by at least 30% by 2025

The 2020 target of reducing marine debris by 30%

Introduce standards related to durability, modularity, reusability and recyclability in the eco-design directive

The EU intends to stop funding disposal facilities and direct resources to separate collection, reuse and recycling infrastructure

However, ZWE warned;

"Prohibition of recyclable garbage to landfill", but not at the same time prohibiting the incineration of recyclable garbage.

Although "energy recovery" is one level higher than "disposal" in the waste hierarchy included in the WFD, from a zero waste perspective, the most important options should be prioritized: reduction, reuse, and recycling. In fact, recycling should be the latest acceptable option. On the contrary, the circular economy package continues to open the door to incineration, which according to the European Economic Area has no place in the circular economy[i]

Repeat past mistakes about moving waste up. Like the gradual transfer of biological waste from landfills included in some national regulations in the past, it not only leads to more recycling, but also promotes incineration. The current proposal to ban plastic landfills may promote plastic incineration rather than plastic prevention , Reuse and recycling.

What is worrying is the lack of foresight in the treatment of plastic packaging, especially considering marine pollution, which has the lowest reuse and recycling targets among all waste streams.

Use target for reuse and recycling; recycling is for materials (paper, plastic, etc.), and preparation for reuse should be for products

Although Europe is the largest potential contributor to job creation, it lacks guidance and tools to promote European reuse

For these reasons, ZWE recommends:

Reconsider the fate of the remaining 30% of waste that will not be recycled in 2030. Zero waste practice shows that the system can be redesigned to ensure further reduction and material recovery of the remaining non-recyclable waste

Realize a true "closed loop" circular economy by banning landfill and incineration by 2030

Introduce a feedback mechanism between waste and product policies; by filtering what is not reusable or recyclable today, we can send a signal to manufacturers to redesign products so that they will no longer be wasted in the future

Separate the goal of reuse from the goal of recycling,

Introduce general prevention and reuse constraint targets for municipal waste and specifically for packaging.

Joan Marc Simon, Director of ZWE, said:

“The package plan proposed today shows that the EU continues to be on the right path towards zero waste, which should be commended. However, the proposal still focuses too much on end-of-pipe solutions. Our experience in zero-waste cities and regions shows that, The front end needs to be vigorously promoted:

– Design durable, reusable and recyclable products,

– Promote optimization of separate collection – Including biological waste –

– And create legal and economic conditions for prevention, reuse and recycling to take over what is now used for landfill and incineration. "

Press contact:

Joan Mark Simon


About ZWE:

Zero Waste Europe was created to allow communities to rethink their relationship with resources.

In more and more areas, local groups composed of individuals, businesses, and city officials are taking important steps to eliminate waste in our society. Zero Waste Europe is involved in two levels:

Support local groups with independent knowledge and simplified tools to promote change more effectively,

Build a movement internationally to better represent the interests of our community at the EU level, and involve policymakers with a unified voice.

In these respects, Zero Waste Europe is both a knowledge network and an advocacy group representing active communities in EU countries.

ZWE proposes to redesign our society to eliminate all excess waste, and everything produced can be reused, repaired, composted or recycled back into the system. Anything that cannot be repaired, composted or recycled should be redesigned and replaced, or prohibited from entering the market.

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