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‘Lack of will’ hampering EU waste legislation

Leading associations in the waste management and recycling sector in Europe have expressed concern at a ‘lack of will’ by some member states in implementing EU waste legislation.

Representatives of Fead, EuRIC, MWE, and Cewep contributed to a dinner debate in Brussels to review progress of the legislation. Policymakers present included MEPs, environment attachés and EU officials.

‘Despite the significance of the legislation, there is still a lack of political will in many member states,’ a joint press release says. ‘The discussion focused on exploring the reasons behind this and finding sustainable solutions to overcome obstacles.’

The debate covered topics including efficient waste shipments, the potential of waste-to-energy, the improvement of recycling rates, the use of recycled content targets to drive the transition towards a circular economy and the importance of enforcement to tackle combat illegal activities.’

EuRIC secretary-general, Emmanuel Katrakis, said that implementing and enforcing waste legislation was essential for a level playing field in turning waste into resources. ‘Unhampered access to European and international markets, EU-wide end-of-waste criteria and recycled content targets are indispensable building blocks for the transition towards a climate-neutral and circular economy,’ he argued.

Fead president Claudia Mensi added that closing the ‘implementation gap’ was essential for realising the full potential of a circular economy. ‘As a leading waste management industry covering all aspects of waste, we want a clear recognition that our industry has shifted from being a service provider at the end of a linear economy to being at the core of the circular economy.’

Cewep secretary-general Ella Stengler commented: ‘We cannot afford to waste the materials and energy embedded in the waste. Therefore, we must properly enforce the European waste laws and the waste hierarchy.’

MWE secretary-general Vanya Veras said self-sufficiency was crucial and that was achievable by implementing waste legislation and co-operating to collect clean waste streams by material ‘extracting every last grain of value through reuse, recycling and recovery and keeping it within a circular loop’.

The director of circular economy in the European Commission, Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, pointed out that most member states were at risk of missing the 2025 targets and the bloc faced data quality issues with unreported waste in some EU countries.

‘We need to find a few key deliverables, which are also politically appealing and that mean something not only to the politicians here in Brussels, to the future Commissioners, but also to the politicians in the member states so that we can all work together to achieve this.’

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