European recycling trade bodies respond to European Parliament’s plenary vote on CEP

Written by: Editorial staff | Published:

European Bioplastics (EUBP), the association representing the bioplastics industry in Europe, and APEAL (the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging) welcomed the “positive outcome” of the European Parliament’s plenary vote on the waste legislation proposal concerning the EU Circular Economy Package.

François de Bie, chairman of EUBP, said: “The plenary’s vote on amendments of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) encourages Member States to support the use of bio-based materials for the production of packaging and to improve market conditions for such materials and products. This vote is an important milestone in strengthening the link between the circular economy and the bioeconomy in Europe. Bio-based and recycled materials are starting to be equally recognised as a viable solution to make packaging more sustainable and reduce our dependency on finite fossil resources.”

The members of The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) also welcomed the European Parliament’s vote on the revision of EU waste legislation, which they said recognised the benefits of bio-based packaging materials and sets the conditions for increased collection and recycling of beverage cartons.

“Diversion of packaging waste from landfilling and the separate collection of packaging waste are necessary to achieve ambitious recycling targets and to drive innovation in sorting and recycling infrastructure,” said Annick Carpentier, ACE director general

Alexis Van Maercke, secretary general of the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL), predicted: “Swift implementation of the CEP will deliver numerous benefits, specifically: a harmonised EU approach, greater legal certainty and a more viable internal market.”

He added: “As the model material for a circular economy, with 76% recycled in 2014, steel is ideally positioned to reach ambitious but achievable recycling rates by 2025. APEAL welcomes that the EP has confirmed the Commission proposal to opt for a specific steel recycling target as opposed to the current legislation. This approach will foster greater understanding of the recycling performance of all permanent materials.”

According to the EUBP, who said the vote is in line with its goals to increase recycling targets and waste management efficiency, the plenary also voted for amendments of the Waste Framework Directive that support a definition of recycling that includes organic recycling.

“A separate collection of bio-waste will be ensured across Europe facilitated by certified collection tools such as compostable bio-waste bags,” added de Bie. “In addition, the MEPs have voted to exclude mechanically or organically recyclable waste from landfills. This will provide an important boost to the secondary resource market within the EU. Bio-based mechanically or organically recyclable plastics support circular thinking by lowering carbon emissions, helping to reach recycling quotas and keep valuable secondary raw materials and renewable carbon in the loop.”

APEAL’s Van Maercke stated: “We are also pleased to note the EP’s reference to ‘multiple recycling’ is confirmed and backed by a large majority of the members of the EP. By introducing the concept of multiple recycling, where products and packaging materials are kept in the material loop and can become resources for other products and packaging, the EP contributes to increasing understanding of the corresponding concept of permanent materials such as steel, that can be recycled multiple times, indeed forever.

“We urge all EU member states to take the principle of multiple recycling on board in the final legislation and incorporate also the ‘permanent materials’ concept in the Council text.”

EUBP promised to work closely with European institutions and relevant stakeholders “to build a coherent and comprehensive framework for a circular bioeconomy in Europe”.

APEAL pointed out it supported the approach to place the measurement point of recycling at the input to the final recycling process. “Indeed, this point corresponds to the point of ‘real recycling’,” emphasised Van Maercke before he added that to safeguard the ‘internal market’ legal base of the PPWD, Member States’ national waste legislation proposals should preserve the Internal market and the free circulation of packaging and packaged goods.

“These proposals should not create disruption due to differences in interpretation or implementation. We call upon EU policy makers to strengthen the legal framework in this direction,” said APEAL’s secretary general.

Litter prevention

The Clean Europe Network welcomed "breakthrough propositions" for sharing responsibility for litter prevention included by Parliament and Commission as part of the revision of the EU’s 2008 Waste Directive.

“If they are serious about making a difference, EU Member States must accept and implement these smart, no-nonsense measures to share responsibility for litter and prevention of littering,” said Derek Robertson, current president of the Clean Europe Network and chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful. “These recommendations by MEPs and the Commission will help get it done – with the people of Europe, producers, local authorities and central governments all working together.”

The propositions are as follows:

  • The first ever definition of “litter” at EU level.
  • For the first time, it is proposed that dropping litter become an offence in all EU countries.
  • Member states must develop a national litter prevention strategy as an integral part of national waste management plans. According to research by the Clean Europe Network, the vast majority of existing national waste management plans contain no substantive strategy whatsoever on litter prevention. In future, national plans will be required “to combat all forms of littering and clean-up all types of litter” (that could include, for example, tobacco waste, chewing gum, packaging, newspapers and magazines, paper personal hygiene products, and others).
  • It is proposed to develop a common European methodology to measure litter so that member states can monitor and assess their litter prevention measures.
  • Member states must identify the products that are the main sources of littering in the natural environment and take measures to reduce them.
  • Producers will be required to pay for public information and communication campaigns on prevention of littering.
  • For the first time, the definition of municipal waste has been explicitly extended to cover collected litter.

The Commission and Parliament have started a process at EU level which we believe will lead to a better sharing of responsibility for litter prevention among all stakeholders. The EU is giving impetus to work that will make a difference to the everyday lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans,stated the Clean Europe Network’s Robertson.

Note of caution

ESA’s executive director, Jacob Hayler said: “While ESA recognises the ambition shown by the Parliament in adopting its amendments, ambitions have to be realistic if they are to result in practical steps towards a more circular economy.

“Since the start of negotiations on the Commission’s proposals, ESA has consistently pointed out that raising recycling rates will not help to achieve a more circular economy unless accompanied by effective measures to increase and sustain the demand for the extra recyclable materials collected. Nothing which the Parliament [said] addresses this fundamental issue.

“The same lack of realism runs through other amendments adopted by the Parliament. The recycling calculation method chosen is virtually impracticable, and if it could be implemented would make a 70% recycling rate unachievable by even the best performing Member States. The Parliament’s deletion of the practicability condition (TEEP) from the separate collection requirements shows the same disregard for what is possible on the ground. And the proposed 10% ceiling on disposal of municipal waste in 2030, which would limit both landfill and incineration without energy recovery, would make the proper management of non-recyclable residual waste impossible," added Hayler.

“ESA will look to the Commission and the Council to address the need for sustainable markets for secondary raw materials, and to put realism and practicability back into the Circular Economy legislation, when the three-way 'Trilogue' discussions get underway. This is vital if the industry is to have a sound basis for future investment.”

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