S&Ds push through ambitious waste-management targets as first step towards circular economy

green circle of reusable items

Today the Socialists and Democrats Group pushed through ambitious proposals for waste management at a plenary vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.  S&D MEP Simona Bonafè, who is the author of four reports on waste reduction and recycling – directives on waste, landfill, packaging and recycling of vehicles, batteries and electronic equipment – was backed by a huge majority in the European Parliament.

These plans are a first, important step towards creating a circular economy.

S&D MEP and rapporteur of the waste package Simona Bonafé said:

“Today’s vote is a major step towards a circular economy. We want to move away from a 'take, make, dispose' model with a fast-turnover principle to an economy where products are designed to last and can be repaired, reused, recycled, and remanufactured. Today many products are designed to be replaced within two or three years. If we continue at this pace, we will need three times more resources by 2050 – but already today the earth generates less resources than we extract. The circular economy is the only solution to combine sustainability and industrial competitiveness.

“Around 600 million tonnes of waste are just thrown away in Europe, when they could be reinvested in the economy. We call for 70% of all waste to be recycled by 2030. The report voted today proposes to strengthen separate waste-collection systems for different kinds of waste and we added the obligation for biowaste and textiles. This is a pre-requisite for establishing a high-quality recycling market and for reaching the targets set. For member states with the lowest recycling rates it will no longer be possible to receive a ‘blanket’ derogation, any derogation will be subject to specific conditions.

“Landfill is the cheapest method for getting rid of waste but also the most damaging one for the environment and human health. This is why we want to progressively limit it: by 2030 only 5% of municipal waste should be sent to landfill. Our target is significantly more ambitious than the Commission’s 10%. 

“Food waste is particularly shameful. Every European wastes a shocking 180 kg of food every year. Cutting food waste by half by 2030 is not only an ambitious target it is also an ethical must.”

S&D vice-president for sustainability Kathleen Van Brempt said:

“This beefed-up waste package is encouraging. Especially if you look back on how this file was almost derailed by the Commission. Only under pressure from the European Parliament, was the Commission prepared to go back on its initial plan to remove this package from its working programme. That we increased the level of ambition again strengthens the position of the Parliament in the upcoming trilogue discussions with the Council.

“To allow us to fully close the loop, our waste policies must be embedded into a circular economy policy that focuses on the whole lifecycle of products.

“Therefore the waste package voted upon today has to be completed by product and (re)manufacturing policies that preserve valuable high-quality materials in closed loops creating an EU-wide market for high-end recycling. Where waste policies guarantee the supply of secondary raw materials and prevent valuable materials getting lost in landfill or incinerators, product policies must create the demand for these recyclable materials in order to close the material loops, if possible at a European scale. To that end, we expect the Commission to deliver on product requirements on repairability, durability and recyclability, and on recycled-content standards that impose a minimum share of secondary raw materials in new products entering the EU market.”