Environment: Higher recycling targets to drive transition to a Circular Economy with new jobs and sustainable growth

Source: EC

Today the Commission adopted proposals to turn Europe into a more circular economy and boost recycling in the Member States. 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 also mean lower environmental impacts and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The plans ask Europeans to recycle 70 % of municipal waste and 80 % of packaging waste by 2030, and ban burying recyclable waste in landfill as of 2025. A target is also included for reducing marine litter along with food waste reduction objectives.

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 new 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. Keeping materials in productive use for longer, reusing them, and with improved efficiency would also improve EU competitiveness on the global stage. This approach is set out in a Communication which explains how innovation in markets for recycled materials, new business models, eco-design and industrial symbiosis can move us towards a zero-waste economy and society.

Marine litter pollutes beaches, causes harm to marine life and creates a long-term waste problem which is expensive to clean up. The 7th EAP calls for a Union-wide quantitative headline reduction target supported by source-based measures.  Full implementation of the measures in the revised EU waste legislation package could deliver marine litter reductions of 13 % by 2020 and 27 % by 2030. Setting a dedicated reduction target for 2020 would give a clear signal to Member States currently developing measures to achieve ‘good environmental status’ for marine waters by the 2020 deadline under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and would provide an impetus for the development of marine litter action plans within the four Regional Sea Conventions. Other EU-level measures, incorporating inter alia the results of the ongoing evaluation of the Port Reception Facilities Directive, will also contribute to the achievement of the target. A second stage of the reduction target will be developed in due time, based on further analysis of the reduction potential from other land- and sea-based sources, and taking into account the commitment made at Rio+20 to achieve significant marine litter reductions by 2025.

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