Brussels – FEAD welcomes the publication of the European Commission’s new Circular Economy Package, containing a number of positive elements. However today, markets for secondary raw materials are weak with little sign of recovery. Strong leadership from EU policy makers is crucial to provide the right legal framework and direction of travel, on the basis of which the private sector can make the necessary investments for a more circular economy, FEAD argues in a new position paper.
The private waste and resources industry plays a key role in making progress towards a circular economy by providing secondary raw materials and energy for Europe’s industries and consumers. The European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD) believes that the Commission’s proposals contain a number of positive elements, like the proposal of new legally binding targets for recycling and landfill diversion, the emphasis on better implementation of waste legislation, the promotion of eco-design, and the emphasis on ensuring that EU funded projects contribute to a circular economy.
But the creation of the circular economy and the protection of scarce natural resources can therefore not be left to market forces alone. Regulatory changes and economic instruments are also needed on the demand side to create more sustainable and resilient markets for secondary raw materials. So the new position paper sets out FEAD’s vision of how the waste and resources management industry can play its full part in achieving a more sustainable and prosperous European economy, given the right policy framework and regulatory and economic instruments.
- Pull measures: creating sustainable markets
FEAD members wish to stress the importance of creating strong and resilient markets for secondary raw materials. Raising quality standards by itself will not create demand for secondary raw materials when commodity prices are low, as they are now and seem likely to remain.
- Harmonised and clear definitions, reporting and recycling calculation method
For the purpose of calculating whether the proposed targets have been attained, a clear and practicable calculation method is needed. FEAD believes that it is important to stress that the purpose of defining the types of waste to which the new recycling targets would apply, is solely for reporting and calculating them.
- Competition and innovation are vital
Open markets and fair competition are of key importance to facilitate the move from a linear to a more circular economy. Open markets and fair competition stimulate the most cost efficient customised services and solutions, and the best possibilities for innovation and investment. They also help SMEs to enter the market. A level playing field between private and public operators is crucial to maximise competitiveness within the sector and would help unlock more green growth and jobs in Europe.
- Commercial and industrial waste
A truly circular economy will not be created if only municipal waste is taken into account. Commercial and industrial waste (C&I waste) should be included in the scope of the Circular Economy proposals as it is a much larger source of resources.
- Minimum Requirements for Extended Producer Responsibility
FEAD supports having minimum requirements at EU level and believes it is important to ensure that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes operate on the transparency and polluter- pays principles. FEAD is of the opinion that the definition, scope and objectives of EPR should be market-oriented so as to fully exploit its potential to achieve a circular economy at best cost.
- The complementary role of waste to energy
The Commission will bring forward a new initiative on waste to energy this year as part of its forthcoming Energy Union. This is expected to stress the important role that energy from waste will need to play going forward for those waste types which are either recycling residues, or are unrecyclable for technical, environmental or economic reasons.
According to FEAD, the achievement of a true circular economy will need to cover a full circle starting with eco-design thereby ensuring that the amount of waste which cannot be recycled is reduced to a minimum. Supply side measures alone such as recycling or landfill diversion targets will not deliver a more circular economy. Regulatory changes and economic instruments are also needed on the demand side to create more sustainable and resilient markets for secondary raw materials.
The full position paper can be downloaded under fead.be.
Source: European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD)