Editorial

The waste package presented by the European Commission last July

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European Paper Industry is a world champion in recycling. The European Paper Recycling rate was 71,7% in 2013 and the sector has set a target of 70% recycling rate by 2015. The recycling rate has increased significantly from levels around 40% in 1990 and 62% in 2005, but has started levelling up since the last five years.

Further improvement of the paper and board packaging recycling rate will largely depend on progress in less than average performing countries. Cepi therefore proposes a minimum target for paper packaging recycling of 80% by 2020 in all Member States. Concrete targets for 2025 and 2030 should be set once the performance based on the proposed methodology and progress towards 2020 targets is assessed, e.g. through the newly proposed early warning system.

Recycling targets in Europe should not discriminate between consumer packaging materials and one material should not compensate for others in a Member State’s calculation of all packaging waste prepared for re-use and recycled. Recyclability and the recycling performance have increasingly become key aspects in the competition between consumer packaging materials.

Paper for Recycling exported outside the European Union should count towards the recycling rate provided it meets the EN 643 standard and is effectively recycled outside Europe at broadly equivalent environmental conditions as in the EU. This should be demonstrated by a certification scheme as it is being considered by the European Commission and which would include in its scope the reprocessing site in the destination country and ensure traceability through adequate documentation.

To reach high recycling targets based on the proposed new methodology, complementary measures next to the introduction of a landfill ban are however essential:

Obligation to collect paper separately from other recyclables and residual waste: to ensure reaching the required quality input for paper recycling processes, paper should be collected separately from other recyclables such as plastics, metal and glass, and from residual waste. The Waste Directive of 2008 has formulated a separate collection target in 2008, however Member States have interpreted this requirement in different ways.

Current recycling definition is too vague: the current definition of recycling is too vague, as it includes next to «reprocessing» also «any other recovery operations». This leads to a wide range of interpretations, including on the recycling rate, between countries and materials. The only way to ensure material that has been discarded is effectively back in the circular economy is to make sure it is not recognized recycled unless it is reprocessed in a production process into new products, materials or substances that have comparable properties to the corresponding virgin raw materials.

Definition of Municipal Waste: the definition of municipal waste should not include material from the retail sector. The collection of waste from the retail sector is already well organised. Including the retail sector would divert the focus from the challenge of improving the waste collection from households and small shops.

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