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Majority of EU states set to miss recycling targets

Eighteen members states of the EU are on course to miss reuse and recycling targets for 2025 and several could fall short of the 2035 landfilling goal, according to the European Commission.

The EC believes nine states are on track to meet the 2025 targets: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia. But it says Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal, Spain and Sweden are at risk of missing the municipal waste target while Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are at risk of missing both the targets for municipal and overall packaging waste for 2025.

A ‘Waste Early Warning’ report sets out recommendations for getting back on track after setting out significant differences in waste management performance across the EU.

‘For some countries, there is still a long way to go to meet the targets agreed in EU legislation and more reforms are needed, notably: to ensure biowaste treatment, which represents a third of municipal waste; separate collection of waste – a prerequisite to recycling; and improve data quality. However, most EU countries have or are in the process of putting place waste reforms to improve recycling rates, some of which should yield results in the coming years.’

The report acknowledges that external factors have affected states’ efforts with the Covid pandemic hitting separate collection and the recent spike in energy prices adversely affecting recycling activities.


The 18 states at rick of missing the 2025 targets are receiving specific recommendations concerning: reducing non-recyclable waste, increasing reuse, boosting separate collection, developing waste treatment capacities for sorting and recycling, improving governance, deploying economic instruments and awareness-raising.

The commission says it will continue to support member states with EU funds, technical assistance, exchange of best practices and peer-to-peer learning. ‘However, national authorities are responsible for intensifying policy efforts and stepping up action on the ground,’ it insists.

The 2025 recycling targets are set out in the Waste Framework Directive and the Directive on packaging and packaging waste: 55% recycling and preparing for reuse of municipal waste; 65% recycling for total packaging waste; and material-specific packaging waste recycling targets (75% for paper and cardboard, 70% for glass, 70% for ferrous metals packaging, 50% for aluminium, 50% for plastic and 25% for wood).

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