CEWEP: Circular Economy package – a stepping stone but a lot of work lies ahead

EU Kommission (Foto: © Schmuttel / http://www.pixelio.de)

Brussels – CEWEP welcomes the European Commission’s ambition to minimise landfilling, increase the quality of secondary raw materials and introduce harmonised calculation methods for recycling. However, it recognises that a lot of work still needs to be done.

Landfill diversion lacks ambition

The landfill cap (maximum 10 percent of the total amount of municipal waste generated; to be implemented by 2030) introduced in the new Circular Economy Package is a step in the right direction. However, CEWEP as a long-time advocate for minimising landfilling as much and as soon as possible would have liked to see a more ambitious approach. It is important to extend the circular economy to the whole spectrum and volume of waste. Municipal waste is less than 10 percent of the total waste production in the EU.

A considerable number of Member States will be given five additional years to divert municipal waste from landfills. CEWEP hopes that these countries which still heavily rely on landfilling will see the measures introduced in the new Circular Economy Package as an opportunity rather than a burden; an opportunity to recycle more and to produce affordable energy from the residual waste. This way Waste-to-Energy helps to establish synergies between energy and resource efficiency policies and contributes to a full circular economy1.

Secondary raw materials market needed

CEWEP welcomes the Commission’s intention to tackle the quality of recycled secondary raw materials. Elaborating quality criteria for secondary raw materials on a European level is far more effective than allowing each Member State to develop its own end-of-waste criteria.

We need a circular economy that is responsible towards human health and the environment. With this goal in mind, ensuring the quality of recycling goes hand in hand with Waste-to- Energy.

Waste-to-Energy is part of a responsible circular economy: Besides its sanitary task to keep pollutants out of the cycle, it generates secure and affordable energy from waste not suitable for recycling and helps to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

Harmonised calculation of recycling rates is good news

The proposal to calculate recycling rates in a harmonized way, based on what is indeed recycled, i.e. monitoring the input into the final recycling process, is a welcome development. This kind of reporting is more ambitious, but it serves the purposes of traceability and comparability and ensures that recycled waste is of sufficient quality to replace virgin materials.

CEWEP also foresees that the Commission’s proposal to count metal recycling from Waste- to-Energy’s bottom ashes towards the recycling targets will give Waste-to-Energy plant operators additional incentives to recycle even more metals from the bottom ash.

Source: CEWEP – Confederation of European Waste-to- Energy Plants