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Paper closes in on end-of-waste goal

Europe – A significant stride has been taken towards end-of-waste status for paper now that, in line with normal decision-making mechanisms, the EU Council of Ministers has passed the proposal for a regulation defining criteria for when waste ceases to be waste.

The proposal now goes forward to the European Parliament for approval, with the European Recovered Paper Association (ERPA) expressing the hope that it will be rubber-stamped and published in the ‘Official Journal of the European Union’ by early 2014.

The proposal sets a threshold for non-paper components and requires all material to be graded according to the EN 643 European list of standard grades of paper and board for recycling. It also reflects concerns over multi-material paper – which caused a delay in the progress of the proposal through the Council – by setting out specific traceability and recovery requirements.

ERPA describes the Council’s decision as ‘a positive and wise step in the EU democratic process towards the adoption of a regulation on end of waste for paper’. It adds: ‘Uncertainty on the point at which waste ceases to be waste creates hindrance to market access and fluidity.’

Defining end of waste at the processing level ‘encourages higher quality recycling’ and ‘discourages contaminated recyclables’, while also removing ‘unnecessary barriers to a Recycling Society which is good for the environment’.End-of-waste status can also yield commercial advantages, ERPA underlines.

At the EU level, end-of-waste criteria have already been established for iron/steel, aluminium and aluminium alloys, copper and glass cullet.

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