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Definition and calculation concerns for EuRIC

Europe – On key issues, the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee vote last week on tabled amendments to proposals reviewing waste legislation ‘will impede the shift from a linear to a circular economy, if not corrected during the vote in plenary session’, according to the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC).

The ENVI Committee ‘failed’ in correctly framing the definition of municipal waste by deleting the ‘quantity’ criterion and including waste from ‘small businesses, office buildings and institutions’ in its scope, says EuRIC. ‘In the absence of an objective criterion,’ the organisation continues, ‘there are genuine risks that industrial and commercial waste streams currently efficiently collected and recycled in competitive markets will be tomorrow unduly considered as municipal waste simply because they are comparable in nature and composition. This would result in additional costs for taxpayers’ money and in further competition distortions.’

EuRIC also sees scope for improving rules on the calculation method to measure recycling rates following the ENVI Committee vote. By opting for a calculation method based on the notion of ‘input into final recycling’, the committee’s approach ‘confuses two distinct steps in the value chain, namely recycling and manufacturing, the latter using both virgin and recycled materials’. Furthermore, at this stage, it is in most instances ‘very difficult if not impossible to trace back the origin of the waste stream(s) for which targets have been set’. Rules to measure recycling targets should be designed to ‘deliver robust and comparable statistics across the EU’, EuRIC insists.

On the plus side, adds EuRIC, the ENVI vote resulted in certain improvements, including: comprehensive pull measures to level the playing field with virgin materials and boost demand for recycled materials; more stringent obligations linked to separate collection; and higher recycling targets.

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