Friday, 15 March 2013

FOE report calls for reuse and waste prevention targets

A report published by Friends of the Earth Europe last month (14th February) called for urgent EU policy changes to increase recycling rates and divert waste from landfill and incineration.

The report Less is More, examines the challenges of recycling and reusing lithium, aluminium and textiles, and recommends a variety of measures to improve what it claims are “the EU’s insufficient waste policies”.

Under the revised Waste Framework Directive (rWFD), member states are required to achieve a recycling rate of 50% by 2020. But the EU’s current recycling rate is 25% and member states landfill and incinerate around 60% of municipal waste. FOE demands EU targets for reuse and waste prevention alongside higher recycling targets.   

Europe is stuck in a system where valuable materials, many of which come at a high environmental and social cost, end up in landfill or incineration,” said Ariadna Rodrigo, resource use campaigner at FOE. “There is an urgent need to fundamentally change EU policies and end our current wastefulness.”

Rodrigo says this waste causes a reliance on raw materials and results in higher carbon emissions.

The rates of waste to landfill differ widely between member states – some landfill only around 5% while the stragglers such as Bulgaria and Romania landfill almost all of their rubbish.

“We have been pushing member states to increase their recycling rates,” said an European Commission spokesman. The spokesman argued that the recycling targets, if met, could be of great benefit to the economy and job production as well as cutting down on the use of raw materials. He suggested that other targets were not currently the priority.

Commission analysis suggests that fully implementing the rWFD would save €72bn a year, increase the annual turnover of the EU waste management and recycling sector by €42bn and create more than 400,000 jobs by 2020.

Jacob Hayler, economist for the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said: “FOE is right to highlight that Europe could achieve even more recycling. The report also draws attention to the wide divergence in recycling performance across different parts of the EU.

“This year the Commission is going to reassess the current target regime for recycling and landfill diversion, and may well conclude that higher targets are required. But what this report shows is that, in the near term, it could be more important to focus on all member states achieving those targets already in place.”

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