A press release of the Council of the European Union (EU), published on December 18, 2017, informed that on the same day the Council and the EU Parliament (EP) have “reached a provisional agreement . . . on all four legislative proposals of the waste package,” i.e., proposals drafted by the EU Commission (EC) for waste framework directive, landfill directive, packaging directive, and electrical and electronic waste directives. These proposals were originally released in December 2015 as part of the EU’s circular economy package (FPF reported) and subsequently amended following a series of intense discussion rounds (FPF reported). The “final analysis and endorsement on behalf of the Council” are planned for the first quarter of 2018. Following this “formal approval,” the new legislation will move to the EP “for a vote at first reading,” and “to the Council for final adoption.”

The Council summarized that “the agreed waste legislative proposals establish binding waste reduction targets and updated rules to decrease waste generation, ensure a better control of waste management, encourage the reuse of products and improve recycling in all EU countries.” The “new targets and rules” are expected to “promote a more circular economy,” “encourage sustainability,” and “improve people’s health and well-being.” The new legislation also sets the “minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility schemes,” making producers “responsible for the collection of used goods, sorting and treatment of their recycling” and requiring that producers “pay a financial contribution for that purpose calculated on the basis of the treatment costs.”

In an article published on December 18, 2017 by environmental news and information service ENDS Europe, Liz Gyekye informed that both the Council and the EP “favored a 65% by 2035 recycling target.” The target originally suggested by the EP was 70%; this value is “still subject to review,” Gyekye noted. Further,  the Council and the EP agreed on “a 60% municipal waste recycling target for 2030 compared to a 65% goal originally proposed by the [EC],” and “a 70% overall packaging recycling target by 2030.”

An article published on December 21, 2017 by Plastics News Europe highlighted that the “key action adopted by the [new waste] legislation” was “drawing up a strategy on plastics in the circular economy to address a number of issues, including: recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the sustainable development goals target for significantly reducing marine litter” (FPF reported).

In a press release published on December 20, 2017, the European Container Glass Federation welcomed the “joint and timely achievement” by the Council and the EP, praising especially “the increased transparency and traceability of material streams, and better separate collection streams across the [EU].” FEVE sees these as “important measures in the transition to a more circular economy, paving the way for further use of permanent materials such as glass, which can be endlessly recycled without loss of their intrinsic properties.” However, the remaining challenge concerns “the implementation phase and the further review of measures foreseen in the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive.” FEVE argued that, since “packaging is a multi-material sector”, the discussions “should not get detracted by the current focus on plastics.” Rather, “the opportunities and contribution of each material stream should be taken into account in order to reach the overall goal of increased resource-efficiency and the free movement of packaged goods across the [EU],” FEVE concluded.

The Association of European Producers of steel for packaging (APEAL) has welcomed “the announcement of a balanced Circular Economy Package,” and emphasized “the general principles . . . to place the measurement point of recycling as close as possible to real recycling,” as stated in a press release published on December 19, 2017. As a critique, APEAL said that “the Member States could have shown more ambition” in setting the final recycling targets, and expressed a concern that “the last-minute introduction of a flexibility mechanism for Member States to perform lower in one or two packaging materials of choice weakens the deal.” Further, APEAL called for investing “in the necessary infrastructure so that the recycling targets can be met for all packaging materials.”

Read more

Council of the European Union (December 18, 2017). “Council and Parliament reach provisional agreement on new EU waste rules.

Liz Gyekye (December 18, 2017). “Parliament, Council reach agreement on waste targets.ENDS Europe

APEAL (December 19, 2017). “Circular economy package confirms steel for packaging as a recycling leader.

FEVE (December 20, 2017). “Promising conclusions to circular economy package.

Plastics News Europe (December 21, 2017). “’Waste not’: European Commission agrees on revised waste legislation.