Withdrawal of the European Commission Waste Package

The aim is reducing burdens and counter-productive red tape to promote a Circular Economy.

On 7 March 2015 the European Commission confirmed its decision to withdraw 73 pending legislative proposals, with the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union of the complete list. The Commission reached this decision after discussions and share of views with the other European Institutions.

By P. Capellini

Among the 73 withdrawn proposals, also COM/2014/0397/2014/0201/COD «Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council, amending Directives 2008/98/EC on waste, 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste, 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste, 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment» has been included: the Commission said they will continue working on the implementation of their Work Programme, including more ambitious proposal about the Waste Package by the end of 2015 to promote the Circular Economy.

The Commission proposal included the following main elements:

-Recycling of packaging waste to be increased to 80% by 2030, with material-specific targets to be increased step by step between 2020 and 2030 (to reach 90% for paper by 2025 and 60% for plastics, 80% for wood, 90% of ferrous metal, aluminium and glass by the end of 2030);

-Phasing out landfilling by 2025 for recyclable (including plastics, paper, metals, glass and bio-waste) waste in non-hazardous waste landfills;

-Improving traceability of hazardous waste;

-Improving the reliability of key statistics through harmonized calculation of targets;

-Introducing an early warning system to anticipate and avoid possible compliance difficulties in Member States;

-Simplifying reporting obligations and reducing burdens in particular for small and medium enterprises;

-Measures aimed at reducing food waste generation by 30 % by 2025.

Eesc opinion

Before the withdrawal of the Waste Package, the European Economic and Social Committee (Eesc) published its opinion on the Commission proposal COM/2014/0397/2014/0201/COD: the Committee welcomed the proposed package of amendments to the waste directives and the attempt to accelerate the transition to a circular model; it also welcomed the introduction of a better monitoring and governance instruments, underlining that to reach the target of 50% of municipal waste by 2020 and 70% by 2030, some countries should have tried harder applying innovative waste management solutions.

However the Committee regretted that the Commission proposal focused too much on waste policies and legislation, whilst specific proposals aiming at improving the entire lifecycle of products were missing; the Eesc recommended that the Waste Package should have been integrated with measures related to products for re-use, since re-use of products, preparation for re-use and re-manufacturing can benefit the most from the value integrated in products, whilst the new Directive proposal seemed to fail to respect the waste hierarchy. Similarly, eco-design of products seem to be left apart in the proposal and Eesc invited the Commission to fix specific rules on this matter such as economic incentives for reusable (if not recyclable products), obligation to incorporate a certain percentage of recycled materials in products, etc.

The Committee furthermore called the European Commission for integrating the whole framework related to the Circular Economy with the other European policies, such as energy and climate policy and industrial policy; in addition, a financing and supporting framework for local authorities should be developed to meet the targets by having access to the necessary financing contribution, if needed with the support of tailored budgets like the EU Structural Funds.