- The European Parliament has voted in favor of four legislative amendments that would establish ambitious recycling targets, a standardized diversion rate calculation method and other requirements as part of ongoing Circular Economy Package negotiations. This includes the goals of diverting 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging material for recycling or reuse by 2030, as reported by Resource.
- Other proposals include limiting the amount of landfill waste to 5% by 2030 (with a possible extension for countries that still rely on landfills for the majority of their waste) and setting a mandatory goal of 50% food waste reduction by 2030. Mandatory separate collection for biowaste, textiles and waste oils and diversion targets for reducing marine litter were also proposed.
- Negotiations will now continue between the European Parliament, European Commission and European Council before any of these proposals become law.
The E.U. is known for having some of the highest performing countries when it comes to recycling, but progress is far from uniform across the 28 member countries and the current target of 50% diversion by 2020 will be hard to achieve. Comparing that progress is also challenging because of the different methods used to track results and standardization would be key to ensuring compliance if these proposed goals do become mandatory. As highlighted in a recent report from U.K. consulting firm Eunomia, national diversion rates from around the world stack up differently when calculated with a standard measure — though Germany remains on top.
This Circular Economy Package has been years in the making and negotiations are expected to continue for multiple months. Questions about the U.K.'s Brexit process, as well as the potential for another Scottish independence referendum, may further complicate the process. Whether to make food waste reduction targets mandatory - a topic that has been a priority for the E.U. but a challenge for some large retailers - will also be a key decision.
The Canadian province of Ontario recently released a detailed strategy for achieving its own circular economy targets and the general concept has been gaining some traction in the U.S. Though based on the history of solid waste regulation in the country it seems unlikely that any form of binding national diversion rate goal, or even a standardized measurement system, will be introduced in the near future.