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Procedure : 2009/2153(INI)
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PV 05/07/2010 - 23
CRE 05/07/2010 - 23

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PV 06/07/2010 - 6.17
CRE 06/07/2010 - 6.17
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Tuesday, 6 July 2010 - Strasbourg
Commission Green Paper on the management of bio-waste in the European Union

European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2010 on the Commission Green Paper on the management of bio-waste in the European Union (2009/2153(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 191 and 192 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which aim to promote a high level of protection for human health and the environment,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper on the management of bio-waste in the European Union (COM(2008)0811),

–  having regard to the conclusions adopted by the Council of the European Union on 25 June 2009 (11462/09 of 26 June 2009),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on waste(1),

–  having regard to Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste(2),

–  having regard to its position of 17 January 2002 on the Council's final common position with a view to the adoption of the decision of the European Parliament and the Council establishing the sixth Community action programme on the environment(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2008 on sustainable agriculture and biogas: a need for review of EU legislation(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2009 on ‘2050: The future begins today – Recommendations for the EU's future integrated policy on climate change’(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 April 2008 on the mid-term review of the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme(6),

–  having regard to its position of 14 November 2007 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the protection of soil and amending Directive 2004/35/EC(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 November 2007 on the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection(8),

–  having regard to its position of 25 October 2005 on the Council common position for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on shipments of waste(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2005 on the share of renewable energy in the EU and proposals for concrete actions(10),

–  having regard to its position of 17 June 2008 on the Council common position with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on waste and repealing certain Directives(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 February 2007 on a thematic strategy on the recycling of waste(12),

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A7-0203/2010),

A.  whereas the Commission initiative promoted in its Green Paper provides an opportunity for Community action on the management of bio-waste,

B.  whereas the proper management of bio-waste brings not only environmental but also social and economic advantages,

C.  whereas Article 2(4) of the Waste Framework Directive provides that specific or supplementary rules on the management of particular categories of waste may be laid down by means of individual directives,

D.  whereas Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste does not provide sufficient instruments for the sustainable management of organic waste,

E.  whereas the rules on the management of bio-waste are fragmented and the current legislative instruments are not sufficient to achieve the stated objectives of the effective management of bio-waste; whereas, consequently, a specific directive is necessary for the management of bio-waste; whereas compiling all the various rules on the management of bio-waste in a single piece of legislation would in itself be an exercise in legislative excellence and better lawmaking, whilst at the same time ensuring simplification, greater clarity and better monitoring and enforcement of implementation and legal certainty and thus guaranteeing the long-term confidence of public and private investors,

F.  whereas the conclusions of the conference on the recycling of bio-waste in Europe, held in Barcelona on 15 February 2010 with the participation of the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament(13), stated that it is necessary to act in order to create a European legislative framework on bio-waste, since this is a key moment to promote such regulation,

G.  whereas a specific directive on bio-waste should have the necessary flexibility to cover the various management options available, bearing in mind that there are a large number of variables and local considerations that need to be taken into account,

H.  noting the unexplored potential of bio-waste managed in line with widely differing policies in each Member State; whereas improved management of this waste is necessary in order to achieve the efficient and sustainable management of resources; whereas the separate collection of bio-waste should be stepped up in order to reach the targets for recycling and renewable energies and thereby contribute to achieving the goals of the EU 2020 strategy, in particular within the framework of the flagship of resource efficiency,

I.  whereas separate collection permits, in particular, the optimal management of certain types of bio-waste, i.e. kitchen waste at consumer and catering levels and also biodegradable and compostable waste from restaurants employing single-use crockery items,

J.  whereas composting organic waste permits the recycling of the biodegradable and compostable products already covered by a Community initiative (the Lead Market Initiative),

K.  whereas EU-level quality standards need to be defined for the treatment of bio-waste and the quality of compost; whereas regulating the quality parameters for compost, including an integrated approach ensuring traceability, quality and safe use, will make it possible to build consumer confidence in this product; whereas compost should be graded in line with its quality, to the extent that the use of compost will have no detrimental effect for soil and groundwater, and in particular for the agricultural produce stemming from that soil,

L.  whereas, given their poor implementation, the objectives set for diverting bio-waste from landfills require additional legislative guidelines if they are to be achieved,

M.  whereas protective measures can be necessary to ensure that the use of compost does not result in pollution of soil or groundwater,

N.  whereas the possibilities for using poor-quality compost so as not to harm the environment or human health should also be considered and assessed, and whereas, at EU level, properly defining the possibilities for using poor-quality compost and establishing when compost is considered a product and when it is considered waste would make it easier for Member States to orient themselves when deciding on matters relating to compost use,

O.  whereas a resource-efficient Europe is one of the flagships of the Europe 2020 Strategy and therefore resource efficiency should be encouraged; whereas recycling of bio-waste contributes towards increasing resource efficiency,

P.  whereas moist bio-waste lowers the efficiency of incineration; whereas the incineration of bio-waste is indirectly encouraged through the Directive on Electricity Production from Renewable Energy Sources; whereas bio-waste can better contribute to combating climate change through recycling it into compost to improve soil quality and achieve carbon sequestration, which is not currently promoted by the Directive on Electricity Production from Renewable Energy Sources,

Q.  whereas anaerobic digestion for the production of biogas is an efficient means of energy recovery; while the digestate thereof can be used to produce compost,

R.  whereas the main aim of the appropriate management of bio-waste must be the result, which means that all the technological options for the management of bio-waste can be kept open to encourage innovation, scientific research and competitiveness,

S.  whereas there is a significant synergy between the transition to a recycling society developing a low carbon economy and the potential for creating green jobs in this field, and consequently a need for appropriations to be earmarked for research into the impact on the working environment of the collection and management of bio-waste,

T.  whereas the Commission and Member States should promote environmental awareness-raising activities in this field, particularly in schools, so as to foster the sustainable management of solid urban waste and raise public awareness of the advantages of separate collection; whereas municipalities and municipal undertakings play an important role in providing advice and information for the public on preventing waste,

U.  whereas bio-waste accounts for more than 30 % of solid urban waste; whereas the volume of bio-waste is rising in the European Union, representing a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental effects when dumped in landfills in conditions owing to which waste management is now the fourth most important source of greenhouse gases,

V.  whereas it is not only bio-waste of household origin that is being treated sustainably in practice,

W.  whereas the management of such waste should be structured in line with the ‘waste hierarchy’: prevention and reduction, reuse, recycling, other types of recovery, in particular for energy purposes, and as the last option, landfilling (in accordance with Article 4 of the Waste Framework Directive), according to which the recycling of bio-waste is preferable to its incineration as it not only avoids the formation of methane gas, but also contributes to combating climate change via carbon sequestration and improving soil quality; whereas prevention is the priority objective in the management of bio-waste and makes it possible, in particular, to avoid food waste and green waste, for example through the improved planning of public parks with low-maintenance plants and trees,

X.  whereas, if we are to move towards an environmentally effective management of bio-waste, the matter needs to be viewed from an integrated perspective in energy and soil protection policies, in line with climate change mitigation goals; whereas a further advantage is the preservation of biodiversity when treated bio-waste is used as a substitute for peat, thereby protecting wetland eco-systems,

Y.  whereas anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from bio-waste can make a valuable contribution to sustainable resource management in the EU and to meeting the EU's renewable energy targets in a sustainable way,

Z.  whereas bio-waste should be seen as a valuable natural resource that can be used to produce high-quality compost, thereby helping to combat soil degradation in Europe, maintaining soil productivity, reducing the use of chemical fertilisers in agriculture, and especially of those based on phosphorus, and boosting the soil's water retention capacity,

AA.  whereas different waste management systems are used in the Member States and landfilling is still the most widely used method of disposing of solid urban waste in the European Union, even though it is the worst option for the environment,

AB.  whereas the production of fuel for transport from bio-waste offers a significant environmental advantage;

AC.  whereas scientific research and technological innovation need to be encouraged in the field of bio-waste management,

AD.  whereas separate collection currently makes it possible to prevent contamination and help achieve the goal of obtaining high-quality compost, providing quality materials for the recycling of bio-waste and making energy recovery more efficient,

AE.  whereas the available studies and experience in the Member States show that it is important to have a separate collection which is both practicable as well as environmentally and economically sustainableand which should be made compulsory; whereas separate collection should be the prerequisite for the production of high quality compost,


1.  Urges the Commission to review the existing legislation applicable to bio-waste with a view, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, to drawing up a proposal for a specific directive by the end of 2010, including inter alia:

   establishment of a mandatory separate collection system for the Member States, except where this is not the appropriate option from the environmental and economic point of view,
   recycling of bio-waste,
   a quality-based classification of the different types of compost from bio-waste;

2.  Calls on the Commission to provide a quantification under the National Emissions Plan of the CO2-equivalent reductions obtained from recycling and composting;

3.  Notes that a future European Union framework would provide legal guidance and clarity for many Member States and would encourage them to make investments in the field of bio-waste management; urges the Commission to support the Member States in introducing waste separation systems and to introduce binding and ambitious targets for the recycling of this waste;

4.  Recalls that the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme 2001-2010 of 22 July 2002 obliged the Commission to develop legislation on biodegradable waste in its Article 8(2)(iv) as one priority action to achieve the objective of sustainable use and management of natural resources and wastes, but that even eight years later no legislative proposal has been forthcoming, which is unacceptable,

5.  Calls on the Commission to elaborate in its impact assessment an improved system for the management of bio-waste regarding the recycling of separately collected bio-waste, the use of composting for agricultural and ecological benefit, the mechanical/biological treatment options, and the use of bio-waste as a source for generating energy; considers that this impact assessment should be used as a basis for preparing a new European Union legal framework on biodegradable waste;


6.  Urges the Commission to lay down criteria in conjunction with Member States for the prodcution and use of high-quality compost and to adopt minimum requirements for end products, in accordance with Article 6 of the Waste Framework Directive, which permits quality-grading covering different types of use for the various types of compost obtained through the treatment of bio-waste in the framework of a strategy based on an integrated approach ensuring not only quality but also product traceability and safe use;


7.  Considers anaerobic digestion to be especially useful for bio-waste because it yields nutrient-rich soil improver, digestate, and also biogas, which is renewable energy that can be converted to biomethane or used to generate base-load electricity;

8.  Believes that, in order for bio-waste incineration to become a viable alternative in the waste hierarchy, a crucial prerequisite is that it be coupled with energy recovery;

9.  Stresses that, during energy recovery from bio-waste, attention must be paid to energy efficiency and sustainable development aspects and that these products should therefore primarily be used in the most efficient manner; reiterates therefore that separate refuse collections are essential in order to comply with the Landfill Directive(14), to provide quality input to bio-waste recycling and to improve the efficiency of energy recovery;

10.  Notes that in order to increase diversion, recycling and biogas generation rates, all technological tools and options that maximise resource recycling or biogas generation should be left open;

11.  Considers bio-waste to be a valuable renewable resource for the production of electricity and biofuel for transport and for feeding into the gas network through conversion of biogas into biomethane (mainly methane – 50 % to 75 % – and carbon dioxide), and calls on the Commission to analyse and promote ways of using bio-waste to produce biogas;

12.  Stresses that diverting bio-waste from landfills needs to be increased; notes, in this context, that bio-waste can contribute to the EU target of at least 20 % renewable energy by 2020 and also that of the EU Fuel Quality Directive; recalls that the Renewables Directive supports the use of all types of biomass, including bio-waste for energy purposes, as a renewable source of energy, and that bio-fuels from waste count double towards the 10 % renewable energy target in transport; calls, therefore, on Member States to consider energy recovery from the biodegradable parts of waste in their national legislation as part of an integrated waste hierarchy policy and urges them to share best practice ideas;

Research and innovation

13.  Urges the Commission and Member States to encourage and support scientific research and technological innovation in the field of bio-waste management;

14.  Calls on the Commission to engage further in research into bio-waste treatment methods in order to better quantify its soil-related benefits, as well as its energy recovery and the environmental impacts;

Awareness and information

15.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to promote environmental awareness-raising activities in the field of bio-waste, particularly in schools and higher education institutions so as to promote better waste prevention behaviour patterns, to foster the sustainable management of bio-waste and municipal solid waste and to raise public awareness of waste prevention and recycling as well as the advantages of separate collection and the biological treatment of bio-waste; stresses in this context the important role of towns, municipalities and municipal undertakings in advising and informing citizens about prevention of waste;

Environmental aspects

16.  Considers that treated bio-waste should be used to conserve organic matter and complete nutrient cycles, especially the phosphate cycle, by recycling it into the soil and calls therefore on the Commission to recognise that policies should be tested for their contributions to mitigating the unacceptably rapid depletion of the world's phosphate resources;

17.  Stresses that bio-waste which is free of pollutants needs to be regarded as a valuable natural resource that can be used to produce quality compost;

18.  Considers that the future of agriculture also depends on conservation and restoration of soil fertility; notes that the use of quality compost in farming can contribute to preserving land productivity, increasing water retention and carbon storage capacity and reducing the use of synthetic fertilisers; stresses the role of Member States in ensuring the use of quality compost on agricultural land;

19.  Points out that the monitoring of gases given off by substances in landfill may be hindered during composting, which may pose a major threat to the environment and the atmosphere; recalls that correct composting – particularly of municipal bio-waste – involves protecting groundwater against leachate from the composting plant;

20.  Stresses that, with a view to attaining objectives at various levels (combating climatic warming, soil degradation and soil erosion; attaining renewable energy objectives), a combination of composting and fermentation of selectively collected bio-waste, if feasible, undoubtedly possesses advantages and should be encouraged;

21.  Calls therefore on the Commission to propose national bio-waste recycling targets to limit the amount of bio-waste available for the least desirable waste management solutions like landfilling and incineration;

Compliance with Landfill Directive

22.  Reiterates that bio-waste management must be structured in line with the waste treatment hierarchy, namely: prevention, recycling, other forms of waste recovery, including energy recovery, and, as a last option, disposal in landfills (Directive 1999/31/EC, Art. 5 and Directive 2008/98/EC(15)); calls on the Commission to make greater efforts to enforce and secure the application of the laws on landfilling throughout the the Community;

23.  Notes that the individual Member States have different existing national legislative measures and different waste management systems and that the use of landfill continues to be the most common disposal method for municipal solid waste in the European Union; calls on the Member States to increase their cooperation and their exchange of best practices in the field of bio-waste management;

24.  Considers mechanical-biological treatment (MBT) to be an effective way of diverting significant quantities of putrescible waste away from landfills for use in composting, anaerobic digestion and energy recovery;

Economic aspects

25.  Considers that financial incentives are needed to expand this separate collection and other bio-waste management systems that maximise resource recovery;

26.  Stresses that improvements in bio-waste management and the harmonisation of quality standards for compost are needed to encourage the development of a European market for compost;

27.  Considers that the ‘polluter pays’ principle should be taken as the basis for compensation for additional costs arising from inputs of pollutants, so that the negative externalities of spreading bio-waste are not paid for by farmers;

28.  Underlines the fact that in many Member States some infrastructure is already in place but that financial incentives are required to create and establish the potential markets in compost and digestate, bioenergy and biofuel from bio-waste;

29.  Underlines the environmental advantage of producing transport fuels from bio-waste; calls for Member States, in the light of the waste hierarchy, to take this into account when they implement the revised Waste Framework Directive, and for the Commission to reflect this in its implementing guidelines;

30.  Urges the Commission to include in all current or additional impact studies on the matter the question of what type of economic incentives, funds or aids could be mobilised or created for the development and implantation of technologies permitting the proper management of bio-waste;

o   o

31.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 114, 27.4.2006, p. 9.
(2) OJ L 182, 16.7.1999, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 271 E, 7.11.2002, p. 154.
(4) OJ C 66 E, 20.3.2009, p. 29.
(5) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 44.
(6) OJ C 247 E, 15.10.2009, p. 18.
(7) OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 281.
(8) OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 138.
(9) OJ C 272 E, 9.11.2006, p. 59.
(10) OJ C 227 E, 21.9.2006, p. 599.
(11) OJ C 286 E, 27.11.2009, p. 81.
(12) OJ C 287 E, 29.11.2007, p. 135.
(13) Note from the Council Secretariat, 9 March 2010, Council document 7307/10.
(14) Directive 1999/31/EC, Recital 17.
(15) OJ L 312, 22.11.2008, p. 3.

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