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Circular Economy Package Axed

December 12, 2014

‘Dismay’ at EC Plans to Axe Circular Economy Package

Circular Economy Package
Circular Economy Package

Members of the waste and resources industry, the manufacturing industry and environment groups have issued a joint statement today (11 December) expressing ‘dismay’ at the European Commission’s (EC) reported plans to withdraw its circular economy package.

Released in July by the previous administration of the EC (which was replaced on November 1st), the draft circular economy package features a proposed 70 per cent recycling and reuse target for 2030, as well as a requirement to increase the recycling rate for packaging waste to 80 per cent by 2030 (with interim targets of 60 per cent by 2020 and 70 per cent by 2025) and a ban on the land filling of recyclable plastics, metals, glass, paper and cardboard, and biodegradable waste by 2025.

The previous administration claimed that adopting the new targets would create 580,000 new jobs, while making ‘Europe more competitive and reducing demand for costly scarce resources’. The package was largely welcomed by the waste and resources industry.

However, there have been reports circulating that the new administration wishes to review, if not repeal, the package. This is in addition to concerns that the EC could stall on implementing plastic bag reduction targets, also proposed by the previous administration.

Indeed, reports from European news outlets EurActiv and European Voice today (11 December) suggest that the EC plans to scrap its flagship circular economy package and anti-air pollution rules at its meeting next week (16 December), with a final decision expected on Wednesday (17 December).

The European Voice states that it has seen the EC’s draft work program for 2015, which was discussed at yesterday’s weekly college meeting of commissioners, and that it outlines the waste package will be removed as there would be ‘no foreseeable agreement’ between member states and MEP’s.

Package offers ‘huge potential for environmental protection and economic growth’

The reports have prompted the Trade Association Group* (TAG), EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation), the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), and Friends of the Earth (England Wales and Northern Ireland) (FoE) to issue a joint statement today voicing ‘dismay’ at the reports, and calling on the UK government to ‘issue a clear and unequivocal statement of its position in relation to the proposed withdrawal of the Circular Economy package’. (The UK government has previously said it would not support the introduction of new EU waste targets or extending current targets, as they ‘would be unlikely to improve the current system and could result in perverse or unintended outcomes’.)

The statement reads: ‘It is with dismay that we learn of developments this week in which we understand that the EU circular economy package is to be axed by the European Commission from its 2015 Work Program.

‘Many industry stakeholders including the undersigned have expressed their support for the proposals whilst fully recognising that a full and reasoned debate is necessary on aspects of the package. There is a very broad consensus amongst industry groups and associations, major companies, NGOs and municipalities that the circular economy package offers huge potential for green job creation, resource security, environmental protection and economic growth.

‘This broad consensus is echoed by industry associations in the UK, and we call today upon the UK government to issue a clear and unequivocal statement of its position in relation to the proposed withdrawal of the circular economy package.’

The group also revealed that it has sent a letter to the UK’s Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss today, asking her to ‘use her good offices to communicate with President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans and urge upon them the importance of retaining the circular economy package for the long-term benefit of Europe’s environment, economy and competitiveness’.

Several other commentators had already issues statements regarding the proposed withdrawal of the package, with the Secretary-General of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Jeremy Wates, stating that withdrawing the proposals would represent “an extraordinary inefficiency in a body which claims to believe in better regulation” and would “seriously undermine the credibility of the EU as a decision making body”.

Find out more about the EC’s circular economy package or the rumours regarding its potential withdrawal.

*The Trade Association Group comprises the:

  • Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA);
  • Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM);
  • Environmental Services Association (ESA);
  • Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE);
  • Renewable Energy Association (REA); and
  • Resource Association (RA)

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