European governments striving to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic are being urged to recognise the essential role of the recycling and waste management sectors during the crisis.
EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation, emphasises its members’ strategic importance in the collecting, sorting and recycling of waste and providing secondary raw materials (SRM) for critical industries, some of which are directly involved in combatting the virus. To this end, it says, there is ‘the absolute need to protect cross-border movement of SRM, be they classified as waste or products’.
It also notes that, with some industries operating at reduced capacity or shut down completely, demand for SRM has declined and some recyclers are holding extra stocks as a result. Euric says competent authorities should be able to grant derogations ‘to increase storage capacity beyond what is normally allowed by European or national rules, in order to mitigate negative effects on the collection and treatment of waste’.
In a call to EU member states, UK, Norway and Switzerland, EuRIC wants authorities to ensure that workers involved in the collection, transport and treatment of waste are provided with sufficient personal protective equipment. It is also asking for such workers to benefit from any relevant schemes, such as childcare, so they can carry out their activities. More flexible working hours may also be required, it says.
The European Commission is urged to draw up a list of EU-wide list of strategic or critical sectors and to include recycling and waste management.
‘The waste management and recycling sector should be eligible for state aids and be included in any legally-compliant list drawn for such purposes, including schemes to support companies in financial difficulty, such as temporary tax exemptions and other measures resulting in financial relief,’ EuRIC concludes.
The organisation says it is monitoring on a daily basis the impact of COVID-19 on the recycling and waste management industry across Europe.
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