EU environment ministers need to show more support for EU waste laws, says the EEB

Stack of plastic bottles for recycling against blue sky

Despite a disappointing Council position, a number of EU governments still support higher targets for waste management and prevention, a meeting between EU environment ministers revealed yesterday.

Stronger national support for proposals to improve EU waste laws is needed to transition to a stronger and resource-efficient economy, says the EEB.

The EEB is Europe’s largest network of environmental organisations with 141 members in 33 countries.

The proposals, already approved by the European Parliament in March, include higher recycling targets for municipal solid waste; targets for preparation for reuse of municipal solid waste and reuse of packaging; better separate collection of all waste streams, including biowaste; EU-wide rules for producer responsibility; and objectives to reduce waste generation by 2030.

Yesterday in Brussels the most vocal countries supporting a more ambitious approach, as proposed by the European Commission and Parliament, were Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden. Greece also renewed its support for higher recycling targets.

Denmark called for a more political discussion among EU environment ministers, lamenting that so far the negotiations have been mostly dominated by input from technical experts. However, the country did not disclose its position.

An investigation by the EEB last month found that there is growing support for higher recycling targets in many EU countries – particularly ones with high populations – but this was not reflected in the Council’s current position.

The Council’s negotiating mandate, agreed in May by member states representatives, is currently significantly lower than that put forward by the European Commission and Parliament in the inter-institutional negotiations taking place in Brussels.

By the end of the year, all three EU institutions – the European Commission, Parliament and Council – are expected to agree on the final text of the new waste laws.

Piotr Barczak, Waste Policy Officer at the EEB, said:

“The Council needs to come up with a new negotiating mandate that takes into account the positive position of certain member states. This must be a priority for the Estonian government, which will take over the presidency of the Council in July.”

He added:

“We need environment ministers to be more involved in the negotiations. The divide we see today in the Council is a result of technical and often non-transparent discussions among working groups that do not represent the interests of the people, and do not take into account the importance of such proposals for the economy of their countries”.

“A 65% recycling target by 2030 like suggested by the European Commission is possible. Some municipalities across Europe have already achieved and gone beyond that.”

For more information:

Mauro Anastasio, Communications Officer