To achieve a true circular economy


Massimo Medugno, general manager Assocarta

To achieve a true Circular Economy, the EU’s ultimate objective should remain to measure recycling rates at the point where recycled materials can replace virgin raw materials in a production process.

The paper sector recognizes that a pre-requisite for setting an ambitious measurement point is to establish a robust traceability and reporting system for member states to provide accurate figures. Europe’s materials industries (metals, paper, steel, glass) continue to support the European Parliament’s ambitious proposal for a single calculation point at input to the final recycling process. A harmonized calculation point should reflect true recycling rates, and not simply what is collected for recycling.

This is the position of the paper industry and others sector (steel, metals, glass) during trialogue negotiations with the European Commission & Council regarding the Circular Economy Package.

Both the Commission and Council have proposed a derogation from the requirement to measure at input to the final recycling process. Unless the output of sorting is the final recycling process (i.e. for glass) the paper sector considers that average loss rates will not deliver the same accuracy as eventually being able to measure what actually enters a final recycling process, nor deliver the Circular Economy’s objective of measuring real recycling. The «recipe» of the paper sector is the following:


1) Member states shall establish an effective system of quality control and traceability of the municipal waste to ensure: the system may consist of electronic registnes set up pursuant to Article 35(4), technical specifications for the quality requirements of sorted waste, average loss rates for sorted waste for various waste types and waste management practices or any equivalent measure to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the data gathered on recycled waste member states shall inform the Commission about the method chosen for quality control and traceability.

2) Quality control and traceability requirements. In particular: European quality standards for waste materials entering the final recycling process; minimum quality and operational requirements for final recycling operators in EU countries and extra UE countries.

3) Clear definition of final recycling.

A clear definition of «final recycling process» is fundamental to achieve a true Circular Economy.