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No need for heightened EU waste targets, government argues

The EU Waste Framework Directive’s proposed changes to statutory waste recycling targets have failed to win the support of the UK government, Collect and Recycle’s (http://www.collectandrecycle.com) many business clients may be interested to read.

In its response to the consultation that the European Commission had launched on the review of European Waste Management Targets, the government claimed that sector-wide instability and uncertainty about investment opportunities could arise from the framework being amended.

The current EU directives demand that member states reach a 50 per cent target for the recycling and reuse of their household waste by 2020, in addition to recovering 60 per cent of all packaging waste since 2008 and decreasing the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill by 2016.

But the need to alter EU-wide targets on waste collections has been questioned by the government, which has suggested that there is “insufficient evidence” that extra targets could be met by member states in the current economic climate.

The consultation ran from June to September this year, and sought the opinions of government, local councils, industry specialists and members of the public on whether waste targets needed to be adjusted in accordance with the aspirations of the Commission, as stated in the 2011 Resource Efficiency Roadmap.

Comment was also sought from waste services stakeholders on the amount of waste that is able to sent for incineration being capped, as well as on targets being set for new waste streams like wood, textiles and food waste.

In summarising its conclusion, the UK government acknowledged the “huge difference” made to EU-wide domestic waste regulation by European targets and legislation, stating that the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive had been beneficial to wider UK recycling.

“However”, it added, “we are aware that in poor economic times, a number of member states are not currently on course to meet the 2020 targets. The European Commission should find ways to help member states implement existing targets before setting new targets.”

Nor was the government in favour of plastics or food waste to landfill being banned, unless the social costs were seen to be outweighed by the benefits. It added that it lacked “sufficiently robust modelling evidence”  for the estimation of packaging recycling rates after 2017.

The government concluded with a call to reduce the “regulatory burden” on businesses, improve the compatibility of data across member states and allow flexibility for such local solutions as the Waste Prevention Programme within the wider EU framework.

Further developments in relation to the consultation will be tracked by ourselves here at Collect and Recycle (http://www.collectandrecycle.com). But for now, it’s easy for all manner of UK organisations to contribute to efforts to reduce business waste, by taking advantage of our highly regarded national recycling service.