European Parliament votes to strengthen waste laws to support circular economy

Members of the European Parliament voted in plenary today to strengthen resource efficiency in the EU by 2030 – a move that signals strong political support for the transition towards a circular economy.

The text approved today includes:

  • 70% target for the recycling of municipal waste, as opposed to 65 percent – with a five percent of that waste to be prepared for reuse;
  • 80% target for the recycling of packaging waste
  • A landfill limit of 5%
  • Mandatory separate collection for the main waste streams, including biowaste, waste oils and textiles;
  • Increasing use of economic instruments such as landfill and incineration taxes and deposit-return schemes, and
  • More clarity on the decontamination of hazardous components in waste.

The Council of the European Union is expected to take a position on the Circular Economy strategy in the coming months, before the Parliament, Commission and Council can all agree on the final text.

During the debate, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans promised to do his best to keep the final text as close as possible to the Parliament’s proposal throughout the inter-institutional negotiations.

Piotr Barczak, Waste Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said:

The European Parliament has sent a clear message to EU environment ministers: any attempt to water down this level of ambition would compromise efforts to transition to a stronger and resource-efficient economy for the European people.”

While praising efforts to enhance reuse and recycling operations, the EEB regrets that binding reduction targets for food waste and marine litter are still missing, and that time derogations for recycling targets are granted to underperforming member states.

On food waste, Piotr Barczak said:

Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in the EU – enough to feed the 55 million Europeans living in food poverty more than nine times over. This is one of Europe’s biggest environmental and humanitarian crises, and it will only get worse if policy makers don’t come up with a legally binding framework to prevent this.”

Notes to Editors:

  • The waste package is part of the Circular Economy strategy, which was announced in 2015 by the European Commission.
  • In January 2017, the European Parliament’s Environment committee approved a proposed text by S&D MEP Simona Bonafe, aiming to strengthen the Commission’s strategy.
  • The proposed text, which was approved in plenary today, paves the way for 867,000 new green jobs as well as billions of euros in savings for businesses and consumers.
  • You can find a more detailed assessment of the EEB’s position on the vote here. A fact-sheet on food waste in the EU is available here.

For more information:

Mauro Anastasio, Communications Officer, European Environmental Bureau

+32 2 274 10 87

European Parliament votes to strengthen waste laws to support circular economy
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