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‘High time to reward environmental benefits’

Now, more than ever, it is important to underline the crucial role of recyclers in bridging the circular economy, environmental concerns and industrial policies. So says Emmanuel Katrakis, secretary general of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC), in response to the new European Commission’s plans for its ‘Green Deal’.

EuRIC welcomes publication of the European Green Deal, which it says ‘rightly’ puts circular economy policies at the core of the objective to re-shape Europe’s economy and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

‘Recycling ticks both boxes,’ stresses Katrakis. ‘To give just two examples, using steel scrap collected and processed in Europe to produce steel corresponds to the CO2 savings of the emissions from the entire automobile fleet in France, Great Britain and Belgium combined,’ argues the secretary general. When it comes to plastics, recycling one million tonnes saves CO2 emissions equivalent to taking one million cars off the road, he adds.

Circular value chains

EuRIC once again stresses the importance of simplifying the legal framework applicable to recycling activities. The umbrella organisation calls for the completion of a competitive internal market for recycling rewarding circular value chains in Europe and beyond. ‘The time has come to reward recycling’s environmental benefits be it thanks to incentives or with a simpler regulation,’ says Katrakis.

EuRIC’s five key measures:

  1. Reward recycling environmental benefits to pull demand for recycled materials in new products and level the playing field with primary materials with: market & fiscal-based instruments; green public procurement; and recycled content targets for dedicated streams
  2. Realise an internal market for recycling through simpler and faster waste shipment procedures plus harmonised EU or national end-of-waste criteria for targeted streams
  3. Strive for a competitive recycling sector in Europe and globally by strictly enforcing competition in the waste management and recycling sector to: forbid reserved markets and cross-subsidisation; implement a pragmatic approach to residual waste treatment; and ensure free and fair access to international commodity markets
  4. Align the interface between waste, product and chemicals to trusted circular flows by phasing out substances of concern at design stage
  5. Making design for circularity the rule rather than the exception through: requirements to improve products’ recyclability and recycled content; reward mechanisms such as eco-modulation of EPR fees; and eco-labelling to empower consumers’ sustainable choices.

A helping hand

According to EuRIC’s president Cinzia Vezzosi, the European recycling industry is eager to work with the Commission services, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU ‘to turn the ambition of the European Green Deal into reality and deliver a Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 that addresses a number of challenges impacting the recycling industry’. Meeting the objectives of the Green Deal requires deeper cooperation across value chains; EuRIC is fully committed to play its part, she adds.

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