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EU waste deal decimates recycling targets.
 23.06.2008 16:48:36
EU waste deal decimates recycling targets

Weak targets fail to address urgency of resource and climate threats

Brussels, 4 June - The debate on recycling and prevention targets in the revision of the EU's main waste directive has now entered a new stage, with a proposed deal at a third informal meeting between the Commission, Slovenian Presidency and a European Parliament delegation on Monday. The deal outlines very low and unenforceable recycling targets, postpones prevention targets and reclassifies some incineration as 'recovery'.

Dr Michael Warhurst of Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "We live in a world under a massive climate threat and increasing pressure on resources, yet EU governments are trying to avoid making substantive commitments to prevent waste and increase recycling. We are very concerned that the Parliament's delegation is proposing to give away too much of the Environment Committee's strong position on this Directive. If the deal is accepted we will look back on this moment as a failure in the political will to make achievable and beneficial changes".

Although the Environment Committee had proposed binding targets by 2020, the informal agreement calls for weaker non-mandatory targets for households, construction and demolition waste but excludes other business wastes. [1]

Parliament also voted for the EU to stabilise its waste production by 2012, but the proposed deal instead delays the setting of prevention targets to 2014, when the recycling targets would also be reviewed.

Nathalie Cliquot, EEB's waste policy officer said: "The very low and unenforceable approach would just delay the chance to set real recycling and prevention targets. The deal must be rejected and the complete decision-making process used to establish enforceable and effective targets which match the urgency of the climate and resources threats. This early agreement does not go nearly far enough to help reduce Europe's waste problem, not to mention the climate benefits that will now be lost." [2]

The deal's proposed re-branding of some incinerators as 'recovery' rather than 'disposal', ignores the evidence that incineration is a climate problem not a climate solution [3]. Incineration is also inflexible and expensive and can limit recycling rates, as reflected by Denmark's opposition to a mandatory 50 per cent household recycling rate because they already have too many incinerators. Given the clear need for - and achievability of - higher recycling targets, Member States cannot afford to put in place such expensive and inflexible residual waste technologies.

The deal also proposes a loose definition of 'by-products' that will allow many materials that are currently waste to escape from the safety of waste management controls.

This proposed second reading deal will be voted on by the full Parliament in its plenary session on 16-19th June in Strasbourg.


For more information, please contact:

Dr A. Michael Warhurst, Waste and Resources Campaign, Friends of the Earth Europe
Mobile: +44 7841 503 474; Email:

Nathalie Cliquot, Waste Policy Officer, European Environmental Bureau
Tel: +32 2289 1097; Email:

Vanessa Bulkacz, Press and Publications Officer, European Environmental Bureau
Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309; Email:

Francesca Gater, Communications Officer, Friends of the Earth Europe
Tel: +32 25 42 61 05; Email:



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