European Parliament proposes legislation to increase recycling

March 15, 2017

The share of waste to be recycled would rise to 70% by 2030, from 44% today, under draft legislation adopted by the European Parliament on March 14. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also want the “waste package” plans to limit the share of landfilling, which has a big environmental impact, to 5% and to deliver a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. Parliament will now negotiate with the Council of Ministers. Statistics for 2014 suggest that 44% of all municipal waste in the European Union is recycled or composted. This compares to just 31% in 2004, and by 2020 EU member states should be recycling or composting more than 50% of waste.

The draft law limits the share of municipal waste to be landfilled to 10% by 2030. MEPs proposed reducing this to 5% albeit with a possible five-year extension, under certain conditions, for member states which landfilled more than 65% of their municipal waste in 2013. In addition, the MEPs advocated an EU food waste reduction target of 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, compared to 2014.

By 2030, at least 70% by weight of so-called municipal waste (from households and businesses) should be recycled or prepared for re-use, (i.e., checked, cleaned, or repaired), said the MEPs. The European Commission proposed 65%. For packaging materials, such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metal, and wood, MEPs proposed an 80% target for 2030, with interim 2025 targets for each material.

“Today, Parliament—by a very large majority—has showed that it believes in the transition towards a circular economy. We decided to restore the ambitious recycling and landfill targets in line with what the Commission had originally proposed in 2014,” said Simona Bonafè, lead MEP. “Reuse, recycling, and recovery are becoming the key words around which a new paradigm needs to be built to promote sustainability, innovation, and competitiveness, so that waste will cease to be a problem and become a resource.”

Press release