Europe – At a meeting on April 25, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee backed the non-legislative draft resolution from Dutch MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy calling for EU-wide sectoral resource efficiency targets, and preferably even national goals. The almost unanimous approval is being widely recognised as a ‘strong signal’ that Europe is ready to fully embrace resource efficiency.
According to Mr Gerbrandy, Europe has grown ‘addicted to cheap resources’ while rising prices are currently ‘the biggest threat to our industry’. He also issues a warning: ‘Improving resource efficiency is a golden opportunity and we simply cannot afford to take 20 years for the transformation towards a sustainable economy. Competitive global markets and the spectacular rise of emerging economies do not give us this much time.’
The report discussed during the meeting calls for a gradual phase-out of the landfilling of waste, and urges the Commission to introduce such proposals by the end of 2014 at the latest. Mr Gerbrandy has also emphasised the importance of banning incineration of recyclable and compostable waste by 2020.
Other recycling targets for that year include ‘concrete actions’ on food waste and better implementation of waste shipment laws, together with plans to eliminate any subsidies that can be seen as environmentally harmful.
Two of the report’s recommendations were dropped for the purposes of compromise: the suggestion that 10% of public revenues should come from environmental taxes by 2020; and Mr Gerbrandy’s advice to establish a special ‘Schengen area’ for waste in order to ease its movement between member states, which raised concerns that it might become easier to discard waste illegally, especially in Eastern Europe.
The report is due to be put to a vote in the European Parliament’s plenary session on May 21-24. If and when approved, it has been agreed that some time should be taken before presenting full legislative proposals – although Mr Gerbrandy has identified 2013 as a reasonable deadline.
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