Member States are divided on raised recycling targets

Written by: Lydia Heida | Published:

Although research shows some countries don’t put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting higher recycling targets, the EU has funded a few interesting projects, including British ones, and banks have introduced standards for financing endeavours which could stimulate European ship recycling. Lydia Heida reports

Although research shows some countries don’t put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting higher recycling targets, the EU has funded a few interesting projects, including British ones, and banks have introduced standards for financing endeavours which could stimulate European ship recycling. Lydia Heida reports

As members of the European Parliament are eager to craft a Circular Economy Package with high recycling targets, new research reveals that some Member States oppose an ambitious reform of EU waste law.

Three leading environmental organisations – the European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe and Zero Waste Europe – have asked Member States six questions about recycling targets.

The results are not encouraging. When asked “Do you support a packaging reuse target of 10% by 2030?”, only one country answered wholeheartedly “yes”, namely Romania.

Most other Member States gave no information at all or are against it, such as Sweden, Austria and Portugal.

Member States are divided when it comes to supporting a 65% recycling target for municipal solid waste.

France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Romania and Greece are in favour of this target.

The others? Not so much.

The UK failed to disclose information on all six questions. “This unwillingness to share its position highlights a
long-standing transparency problem during negotiations between Member States, as well as Member States and EU institutions,” according to a press release of the above-mentioned environmental organisations.

In the coming weeks, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council will have to finish negotiations about the new waste laws.

Then, the final text of the Circular Economy Package can be composed.

Bringing innovations to market

In June, the European Commission invested around €100 million to help 69 small businesses bring their innovations to the market.

Each project will receive up to €2.5 million, which comes out of a pot of money named ‘Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2’.

Most funded projects are in the field of ICT, transport or health.

But also some recycling initiatives will receive financial support, which are located in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, among others.

Four interesting British projects have also been funded.

Skymark Packaging International uses an innovative continuous extrusion recycling process assisted by sc-CO2
for printed plastic waste to turn it into high-quality polyolefin film. While Aurelius Environmental is working on a process to recycle lead acid batteries that reduces CO2emissions by 89% and waste by 81%, as it hardly requires energy and harnesses the batteries’ hazardous chemicals as a raw material.

EcoSheet has developed panels that are made from 100% recycled plastics – a sustainable alternative to plywood.

And last but not least, Altek has invented a technology to recycle aluminium salt cake, a by-product in the aluminium recycling process using a rotary furnace.

Its new process, based on the immediate pressing of the salt slag, is reported to significantly reduce the fuming and forming of nitrides and more aluminium can be recovered.

Ship recycling

Recently, Dutch banks ABN AMRO, ING and NIBC, together with the Scandinavian banks SEB and DNB, presented the Responsible Ship Recycling Standards for ship financing.

Part of these standards is that a bank is “not directly involved in the financing of unsustainable ship recycling facilities, or the purchasers of shipping assets intended for unsustainable ship recycling”. But sustainable ship recycling is not made mandatory, as it only includes that a bank should make an effort to “create awareness on sustainable ship recycling, and address the client’s approach to manage the potential negative impacts of ship recycling”.

However, it is required that financed ships carry an inventory of hazardous materials, according to the standards of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. This means that the use of less hazardous materials in the construction of ships is encouraged, while hazardous substances which are prohibited by national regulations or international conventions are not to be used.

That could contribute to the safety of workers during the recycling process, with less hazardous waste as an end result.

There are now 18 shipyards in the EU that have been qualified by the European Commission for ship recycling. Three are located in the UK: Able UK, Harland and Wolff, and Swansea Drydock.

As no shipyards of third countries are yet included on the list, it is thought support of European banks for sustainable ship recycling could promote business in the EU.

Lydia Heida is an independent journalist specialising in the recycling, renewable energy and resource sectors. She is based in the Netherlands


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