Recyclers have urged the European Commission to accelerate the development of end-of-waste (EoW) criteria for secondary material streams as it looks to deliver its Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan.
The call was made at the latest Recyclers’ Talks online forum organised by EuRIC, the confederation which represents the interests of recycling industries at the EU level, which attracted more than 100 participants. EuRIC general secretary Emmanuel Katrakis stressed the importance of EU-wide EoW criteria to achieve a well-functioning market for raw materials recovered from recycling. He argued that such criteria were key to harmonising market access across the EU and to reward quality products.
Peter Wessman, legal officer in the waste management and secondary materials unit of DG Environment, outlined the legal framework on the development of EoW criteria which are based on the Waste Framework Directive. Following the publication of the new Circular Economy Action Plan in 2019, he said, the Commission was resuming its work on developing such criteria to boost a well-functioning internal market for secondary raw materials. Currently, the plan is to select one waste stream at a time to develop EoW criteria by 2023 and beyond.
Sébastien Ricard, director of sustainable development and public affairs at Paprec Group, asserted that these criteria were essential for a leading recycling company such as his own to make investments. Not only do they place additional emphasis on quality but they also boost circular value chains by alleviating administrative barriers. Ricard made the case for paper and board which already has an EU-wide harmonised quality standard and would benefit greatly from such criteria to boost paper recycling and paper production in Europe.
Sara Stiernström, product and market developer at EasyMining, quoted the example of phosphorous, a critical raw material in the EU. She said the lack of EoW was a barrier to waste and chemical legislation which hampered the circular economy for this in-demand element.
End-of-life tyres (ELT) were quoted by two speakers as a waste stream for which harmonised EoW criteria would boost investment in high-value recycling. Lars Raahauge, environment and business development at Genan Group, argued it would result in substantial climate and resource savings in line with the objectives in the European Green Deal. He noted that Spain, Italy and Portugal already had such criteria and it was time for harmonised criteria. Alex van Gelderen, an advisor on ELT management with the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association, said the tyre and rubber manufacturing industry was working closely with EuRIC on EoW criteria because they were the ‘missing link’ in investing in innovative solutions and new markets to recycle ELTs.
‘Commission, hurry up!’
Alicia Garcia Franco, vice-president of EuRIC, called on the Commission to go faster and prioritise more than one stream at a time. While the European recycling industry is making a lot of investments to deliver on the new Circular Economy Action Plan initiatives, she said, accelerating the development of EU-wide EoW criteria was a legitimate and urgent call.