Editorial

Waste framework directive: who is the recycler?

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European material industries call for measurement of real recycling rates.

Europe`s metals, steel, paper, and plastics recyclers industries are united in calling for a harmonised method to measure recycling rates at input into the “final recycling process”, so as to promote material recovery and thus quality recycling. We support the European Commission and European Parliament proposals on this subject.

In Europe, Member States use different methods for calculating national recycling rates, making comparison difficult. Some base their calculations on waste collected or sorted, while much of that waste will still be incinerated, landfilled or exported without guarantee of proper treatment.

In a true circular economy, materials in products should be properly recovered and recycled, for use in new product life-cycles. The Commission´s proposal to measure real recycling rates across all Member States is an important step to promote material recovery and guarantee its supply into the “final recycling process”.

Why measure at input into the final recycling process?

Measuring recycling rates at input into the final recycling process has the following benefits:

o Promoting material recovery from waste and end-of-life products, by avoiding that the collected and sorted waste which gets landfilled, incinerated or exported is counted as recycled

o Identifying a final recycling step, where material is recovered from waste and is able to substitute primary material in a new product life-cycle. All actors of the recycling value chain make key contributions to the reprocessing of waste into products or materials. Recycling rates should measure the true rate of material recovered from waste.

o Allowing a benchmark of progress, by implementing a harmonised method for all Member States (although some might now have more difficulty achieving recycling targets)

During their review of EU waste legislation, MEPs and Member States should safeguard the European Commission´s proposal for measuring real recycling rates.

This is an essential step to promoting material recycling across European sectors.

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