Collect and Recycle

ESA calls for EU recycling target restraint

The European Union has been urged by waste industry trade body the Environmental Services Association (ESA) to avoid raising targets on waste and recycling to such an extent that the gap between the recycling performances of Member States would be widened, reports UK IT recycling specialist Collect and Recycle (

The organisation said that a significant heightening of existing targets would not be advisable, given how much performances between current Member States differed. This was in response to the EU’s consultation, which began in June, on a change to the targets set out in the Waste Framework, Landfill and Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives.

Views are being sought from stakeholders on future targets for household and commercial waste recycling, as well as whether a maximum incineration level should be introduced for different waste streams.

Europe policy advisor at ESA, Roy Hathaway, commented: “It is common sense that we need to landfill less, recycle more and make better use of our resource. In the past, successive EU waste targets have been important in supporting UK progress in doing this, but the context is changing.”

Mr Hathaway said that the 28 Member States of the EU differed hugely not only in their recycling levels, but also their “financial resources and political will to change.” He said that the ESA was not convinced that the poorest performers were on track to meet their targets – adding that it had to be the first priority of the EU to ensure that this situation changed.

“But,” he added, in words that will interest many of those using such services as WEEE disposal and solvent recycling, “given the huge variation across Europe, we don’t see a way, at the moment, to set new EU targets that are high enough to challenge Member States with good recycling rates but would still be credible in the poorer performing countries.”

Mr Hathaway went on to say that continued ambition to improve recycling rates was vital among more advanced EU Member States such as the UK, but that the onus was on national governments introducing policy frameworks making this possible.

Claiming that continued “high aspirations” were necessary for UK recycling, Mr Hathaway called for recycling targets of at least 70 per cent. But he said that it was “key” to get policies right, with clarification on the future of the landfill tax being needed, as well as improvement to the “investability” of merchant plants.

He did, however, state that the EU retained “a vital role” in regulating to tackle issues that the Single market meant could only be addressed at an EU-wide level.

Users of Collect and Recycle’s ( waste services may be interested to read that according to data published in March, the UK’s recycling rate of around 25 per cent made it one of the EU’s mid-performing Member States. This compared to recycling rates as low as 1 per cent and 2 per cent in Romania and Bulgaria.

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