Skip to content

Recycling has stagnated in the EU-a lesson from EU waste and resource policies?

Bad news for the EU; 2011 statistics show that despite the economic downturn and the reduction of consumer waste production remained stable, recycling and composting have stagnated. In 2011, the EU continued to burn and bury 60% of waste, recycling and composting40 %.

This is especially sad when the European Commission warns of all the untapped economic and environmental benefits related to the correct implementation of EU waste legislation-it will save 72 billion euros per year and increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector 42 Euro 1 billion, creating more than 400,000 jobs by 2020-.

Is the EU waste legislation effective?

In fact, since the approval of the new waste framework directive in 2008, recycling in the EU has not increased. It must be considered that the conversion of EU law to national law has delayed its implementation, but in most countries, the new law has not changed much, which is also true. Despite binding waste levels, recycling targets, waste prevention plans, etc., market incentives do not seem to direct waste to recycling plants. Incineration in Europe has increased, and the export of valuable waste such as WEEE has also increased...

Recently, the European Commission has noted the importance of using economic and legal measures to avoid waste disposal, but economic measures related to waste at the EU level continue to reward disposal rather than recycling. If we look at the EU’s economic incentives, we will find that people shouldn’t be surprised when recycling stagnates and incineration rises.

Therefore, if the EU wants to increase recycling, the first thing it should do is to eliminate harmful subsidies, and at least create a level playing field between prevention + reuse + recycling and incineration + landfill. Regulation of excess incineration capacity in the EU will also help make recycling more attractive.

Second, it should start to promote legal and economic incentives such as landfill bans, bans on the incineration of recyclable waste, the obligation to collect biological waste separately, pay-as-you-go programs, and taxation of toxic or less sustainable waste (low Durability, repairability), recyclability, biodegradability, etc.).

Third, adopt clear and ambitious waste reduction, reuse and recycling goals through specific waste streams, and use policy tools to make it possible.

Finally, lay the necessary foundation for innovation in the use of resources and materials to minimize toxic substances and separate the technological cycle (recycling) from the biological cycle (composting).

In 2012, the European Commission and the European Parliament adopted the following text on the resource efficiency roadmap:

By 2020, waste will be managed as a resource. The amount of garbage generated per capita has dropped absolutely. Due to the extensive separate collection and the development of the functional market for secondary raw materials, the recycling and reuse of waste is an economically attractive option for the public and private sectors. More materials, including materials that have a significant impact on the environment and key raw materials, are recycled. Waste legislation is fully implemented. The illegal transportation of waste has been eradicated. Energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials, almost eliminating landfills and ensuring high-quality recycling.

The resource efficiency roadmap is very much in line with our view of zero waste in Europe, but we must remember that 2020 is seven years later. If the EU does not fundamentally change its waste and resource policies in 2014-2015, the resource efficiency target can be ignored. Meet. We Europeans cannot waste all the potential employment opportunities, economic activities and fiscal savings associated with Zero Waste Europe.

Previous article Reuse the network