On 17 June, the EP ENVI Committee voted on the amendments to the Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI) report on Resource Efficiency – Moving towards a Circular Economy, and the draft report as amended was thereafter adopted (please find draft report here).

The report was adopted by 56 votes to 5, with 5 abstentions and follows up on the previous Commission’s Communication on Circular Economy (here) but also aims to provide input to the new Circular Economy proposals that the Commission is planning to publish this autumn. The report includes a call from the MEPs to the Commission to table a new proposal by the end of 2015 that includes:

  • clear minimum standards for EPR requirements ‘to ensure transparency and cost effectiveness’ of the schemes.
  • application of the “pay as you throw” principle
  • targets for recycling / preparation for reuse to be raised to at least 70% of municipal solid waste and 80% recycling of packaging waste by 2030
  • ‘an obligation for recyclers to report on the “input” quantities of waste going into the sorting plant as well as on the “output” quantity of recyclates coming out of the recycling plants, preventing the reporting of discarded waste (landfilled or incinerated) as recycled waste’
  • binding waste-reduction targets for municipal, commercial and industrial waste to be achieved by 2025
  • waste prevention measures
  • incineration to be strictly limited by 2020 to non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste
  • a binding, gradual reduction of all landfill waste.

After the resolution was adopted rapporteur Sirpa Pietikäinen, reportedly stated that the vote showed that MEPs and the Commission agree on the direction to take but Green MEP Claude Turmes (LU) did not agree with Pietikäinen in this regard. Instead, he felt that the ENVI MEPs had suggested substantial improvements (please consult the article with both of their statements here). Massimo Paolucci, the S&D shadow rapporteur on the circular economy reiterated the call for action in circular economy: ‘Rather than being just an opportunity, a circular economy is a necessity for Europe. The challenge to compete in the global economy will more and more depend on innovation and sustainability. Investing in the quality of our lifestyles and our ecosystems is key to building a new development model, capable of creating jobs and well-being’ (please see S&D press release here).

Among the stakeholders reacting to the vote, PlasticsEurope welcomed the MEPs’ call to end landfilling. Executive Director Karl-H. Foerster was very encouraging of the ENVI Committee’s strong position on asking the Commission to put an end to the disposal of plastics in landfills (please see press release here). The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) encouraged the MEPs’ strong stance on resource reduction as Piotr Barczak, Policy Officer for Waste (EEB), said: ‘Companies, NGOs and citizens can all see the value of adopting a new economic model which makes more careful use of our resources and limits waste’ (please see press release here).

The ENVI Committee report available on the ENVI website (please see here). The report is scheduled for a vote in the EP Plenary on 7 July.

It is remarkable that all political parties are supporting the need for minimum EPR requirements as they see EPR as a very important tool to implement the environmental goals of EU legislation but it has to be ensured that it is used following the best practices. EXPRA has met in the last 12 months several times with the rapporteur and all shadow rapporteurs and will of course continue the engagement especially to convince them to promote the right minimum requirements. Besides personal meetings EXPRA had sent last week a letter to all shadow rapporteurs supporting the need for minimum requirements and the need to measure recycling as input recycling. The letter is enclosed for your kind notice.