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Circular economy: More recycling of household waste, less landfilling

18/04/2018
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Parliament backs ambitious recycling targets, under legislation on waste and the circular economy, adopted on Wednesday.

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• Municipal waste recycling target: 44 % today, 55% by 2025, 65% by 2035
• No more than 10% landfilling by 2035
• Separate collection of textiles and hazardous waste

Improving waste management will not only benefit the environment, climate, and human health. The four pieces of legislation are also part of a shift in EU policy towards a circular economy, i.e. a system where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained in the economy for as long as possible.

By 2025, at least 55% of municipal waste (from households and businesses) should be recycled, says the text, as agreed with Council of Ministers. The target will rise to 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035. 65% of packaging materials will have to be recycled by 2025, and 70% by 2030. Separate targets are set for specific packaging materials, such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metal and wood.

Landfilling to become an exception

The draft law also limits the share of municipal waste being landfilled to a maximum of 10% by 2035. In 2014, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sent virtually no municipal waste to landfill, whereas Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Latvia and Malta still landfill more than three quarters of their municipal waste.

Textiles and hazardous waste from households will have to be collected separately by 2025. By 2024, biodegradable waste will also have to be either collected separately or recycled at home through composting.

Reduce food waste by 50 %

In line with the UN sustainable development goals, member states should aim to reduce food waste by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. In order to prevent food waste, member states should provide incentives for the collection of unsold food products and their safe redistribution. Consumer awareness of the meaning of “use by” and “best before” label dates should also be improved, say MEPs.

“With this package, Europe is firmly committed to sustainable economic and social development, which will at last integrate industrial policies and environmental protection”, said lead MEP Simona Bonafè (S&D, IT). “The circular economy is not only a waste management policy, but is a way to recover raw materials and not to overstretch the already scarce resources of our planet, also by profoundly innovating our production system”.

“This package also contains important measures on waste management, but at the same time goes further, by defining rules taking into account the entire life cycle of a product and aims to change the behaviour of businesses and consumers. For the first time, Member States will be obliged to follow a single, shared legislative framework”, she added.

Next steps

The text now goes back to Council for formal approval before publication in the Official Journal of the EU, the official record of all EU legal acts.

Background: what is a circular economy?

A circular economy implies reducing waste to a minimum as well as re-using, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products. Moving towards a more circular economy will reduce pressure on the environment, enhance security of supply of raw materials, increase competitiveness, innovation and growth, and create jobs.

Further information

Waste management in the EU: infographic with facts and figures

Circular economy: definition, importance and benefits

The circular economy package: new EU targets for recycling

Circular economy and waste reduction: Moving towards a resource-efficient society

EP Research: circular economy package

Municipal waste landfilled, incinerated, recycled and composted in the EU-28, 1995 to 2016

Steps of the procedure (2015/0276(COD))

Steps of the procedure (2015/0272(COD))

Steps of the procedure (2015/0274(COD))

Steps of the procedure (2015/0275(COD))

Committee on the Environment, public health and food safety

Press release on committee vote (27.02.2018)

Profile of rapporteur Simona Bonafè

Free photos and audiovisual products