In yet another crucial step on the path to creating a circular economy in the EU, where products are designed in order to facilitate reuse, MEPs have voted on the proposals for four directives concerning waste management at the European Parliament today. 

At stake were ambitious targets for recycling and limiting landfills, in favour of other less harmful methods.

The proposals aimed at moving the EU towards a more environmentally-friendly economic model that reduces the amount of waste by re-using, collecting, recycling and repairing as much as possible.

The European Commission has proposed a target of 65 per cent for recycling and a maximum of 10 per cent landfilling by 2030 but MEPs are calling for more ambitious targets.

At this morning’s debate in plenum, GUE/NGL Shadow Rapporteur for the file, MEP Josu Juaristi said that a circular economy can only be realised with the help of ordinary people:

“The Commission should have been more ambitious when it published the Circular Economy Package in December 2015. As Commissioner Timmermans said, this is about the model of society we want to create and what we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren. We need to reconcile sustainable development with the needs of our environment and the fight against climate change. What is needed is a systemic change, a paradigm shift on how we look at things.”

“One step towards this goal is to work on a community level, recognising the important role local authorities have, being closest to the people. We need to work hand-in-hand with social movements and with the grassroots. This will lead us to a true circular economy, with the people taking full ownership of the efforts to reduce waste and change our production processes.”

Czech MEP, Kateřina Konečná, expressed satisfaction with the Parliament’s adopted position, with the proposals now moving towards the negotiation process with the Council and the Commission:

“I am happy with the ambitious targets we’re proposing and they form a good basis for the ensuing negotiations. More ambitious targets on waste and recycling will benefit all citizens. I support limiting waste disposal at landfills due to the harm they cause but I do not support an absolute ban on waste incineration as it still is a better alternative.”

GUE/NGL MEP João Ferreira was the author of an opinion on this file for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), which called for support to be given to member states currently lagging behind the scheme:

“We must consider the different baselines among member states when meeting the targets for recycling, which have now been revised upwards. This means there is a difference in the level of effort each member state will have to make to meet these targets. Without calling into question the revised targets, there should be more flexibility with the timing required to achieve them.”

“Further, more ambitious targets justify the creation of funds to support the countries lagging behind,” Ferreira added. 

Likewise, Neoklis Sylikiotis, GUE/NGL coordinator in the ITRE committee, warned that more recycling should not mean reckless consumerism:

“If we want to protect the environment and ensure quality of life, we must end the uncontrolled generation of waste and aim at sustainable consumption. We can’t consume everything just because in the context of a circular economy the waste will be recycled.”

“Special economic support must be given by the EU to the member states most affected by the neoliberal policies of austerity and who may face problems in meeting the new targets set in the amended directive,” the Cypriot MEP urged. 

Finally, Finnish MEP Merja Kyllönen highlighted how interlinked a circular economy is with a clean energy generation and meeting the environmental challenges:

“The circular economy provides an opportunity for us to meet global environmental challenges more efficiently. Both issues are interlinked. For instance, more efficient utilisation of materials through different methods of recycling still requires energy and therefore a sustainable circular economy is not attainable without renewable clean energy. Thus, this debate is not only about making Europe a global leader in this sector but also about saving our planet.”

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