European Commission’s Report Highlights Member States’ Progress Towards Waste Management Targets
Brussels, June 8, 2023

The European Commission has released the COM(2023) 304 final report, presenting an evaluation of Member States’ performance regarding waste management targets. This report, aimed at the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions, identifies countries at risk of not meeting specific waste targets set by EU legislation. The targets encompass the 2025 preparing for re-use and recycling target for municipal waste, the 2025 recycling target for packaging waste, and the 2035 municipal waste landfilling reduction target.

Background and Context
The essence of the circular economy lies in the transformation of waste into valuable resources. Effective implementation of EU waste legislation relies on adhering to the waste hierarchy, which prioritizes preparing for re-use and recycling while minimizing landfilling. The report underscores that meeting EU waste treatment targets is essential for progressing towards a circular economy and achieving the Circular Economy Action Plan’s objectives. These goals include doubling the EU circular material use rate, significantly reducing total waste generation, and halving residual municipal waste by 2030. The report also highlights the pivotal role of sound waste management in preventing environmental and health impacts, aligning with the zero pollution action plan on waste and marine litter.

Key Objectives
The report is centered on the following objectives

  1. Focusing on High-Impact Sectors: The report evaluates Member States’ progress toward the attainment of 2025 targets outlined in the Waste Framework Directive and the Packaging Directive. These targets include achieving a minimum of 55% preparing for re-use and recycling of municipal waste, 65% recycling of all packaging waste, and material-specific packaging waste recycling targets.  
  2. Assessing Landfill Reduction: The report also offers a preliminary assessment of Member States’ likelihood to meet the target laid down in the Landfill Directive to reduce landfilling of municipal waste to less than 10% by 2035.
  3. Best Practices and Recommendations: Alongside assessing progress, the report presents key recommendations for Member States at risk of not meeting specific waste targets. Additionally, it offers examples of best practices in waste management to aid in improving waste recycling performance.

EXPRA views on the report:
The Commission’s early warning report (EWR) published last Thursday showcases that 10 Member States are at risk of missing the targets (65%) for recycling of all packaging waste to be achieved by 2025 and eight Member States are at risk of missing the targets for preparing for reuse and recycling of municipal waste (55%). In total, only 9 MS are on track to meet both targets. Regarding the maximum target of 10% landfilling of municipal waste, 13 MS are still far from reaching it. We believe that one of the reasons for this was not utilizing the full potential of EPR. We further believe that well-designed EPR systems (for the various relevant waste streams under EPR) combined with a functioning waste management sector have the potential not only to fulfill the various targets but also to drastically reduce carbon emissions and increase resource availability. Of course, this can only be achieved through the joint efforts of all relevant stakeholders. It should be noted that despite the availability of relevant EU legal framework, as outlined for example in the Waste Framework Directive (Art 8a WFD – minimum requirements for EPR) and/or existing proven best practices provided by respective EPR umbrella organizations (like EXPRA for packaging golden rules for EPR), we regret to hear that many MS are still struggling to establish the necessary legal framework and the respective infrastructure to meet their targets. It is clear that urgent action is needed.

EXPRA Position:
The Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance, raises concerns about the challenges faced by 18 Member States (MS) in meeting the targets set by the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) and Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). The organization believes that more effective utilization of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems is crucial. It emphasizes that well-designed EPR systems, coupled with efficient waste management sectors, have the potential to not only achieve the specified targets but also significantly reduce carbon emissions and enhance resource availability. To facilitate this, collaboration among stakeholders is essential. Drawing from its experience, EXPRA and its members are ready to assist the Commission in implementing measures to enhance packaging waste management and improve recycling rates. They identify key characteristics that facilitate target achievement:

  • Launching the EU EPR Dialogue Platform and establishing EPR Dialogues at the national level to enhance stakeholder communication.
  • Amending Article 8a of the WFD to align Packaging Recovery Organizations’ responsibilities with EU and National legislation, following best practices from leading Member States.
  • Establishing independent bodies or public authorities to oversee extended producer responsibility obligations in MS with competing PROs.
  • Encouraging obligated industries to transition to recyclable packaging, urging PROs to allocate a minimum percentage of their income to design for recycling services.
  • Ensuring separate collection and treatment of bio-waste, batteries & chargers, and textiles to boost recyclable collection.
  • Supporting MS with interim landfill targets and expanding the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) program to provide technical assistance.
  • Continuation of “Virtuous Circle Missions” for MS to improve waste management systems.
    By implementing these measures, EXPRA envisions exceeding the set targets, demonstrating its commitment to promoting packaging sustainability and advancing towards a waste-free resource future.

More information here: https://environment.ec.europa.eu/publications/waste-early-warning-report_en 
You can read the full Press Release here: