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Recycling targets could be missed ‘by half of EU countries’

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A European Commission official has admitted that the Waste Framework Directive’s statutory recycling targets could be missed by more than half of EU Member States, hazardous waste collection specialist Collect and Recycle ( reports.

A policy official from the European Commission’s DG Environment’s waste section, Michel Sponar, said that between nine and 16 Member States were presently estimated to be on track to meet the Waste Framework Directive’s 50 per cent target for municipal solid waste recycling (MSW).

He said that although targets set under EU legislation had been met or exceeded by several Member States, there was an even greater number of countries struggling to cope with the demands of the environmental legislation. He cited the Landfill Directive’s biodegradable waste diversion targets as presenting a particular challenge for Member States, even when the four year exemption from the charges enjoyed by 14 countries are taken into account.

Mr Sponar made his comments while discussing the Consultation on the Review of the European Waste Management Targets at an early September meeting of the European Group of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), which took place in Brussels and was hosted by the European and Economic and Social Committee. 17 national representatives were present at the meeting.

Last month saw the closure of the consultation on EU waste collections targets, with views being sought on whether the targets needed to be altered to better align them with the aspirations of the Commission as detailed in the Resource Efficiency Roadmap.

In response to the proposal to put a cap on the level of energy from waste, Mr Sponar suggested that a “pragmatic approach” would be adopted by the Commission, signalling that its preference was for heightened recycling targets, with EfW becoming Member States’ main option for residual waste treatment.

On the subject of phasing out landfill, Mr Sponar suggested 10 per cent as a sound long-term limit on the amount of waste permitted to be landfilled, adding that there was a need for residual waste to be more clearly defined.

The meeting also involved a session, Waste hierarchy, how to move up the hierarchy: difficulties, challenges and successes, at which presentations were made drawing attention to the progress of Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Estonia’s waste management schemes. While Sweden was a success story, with landfill accounting for a mere 0.7 per cent of MSW disposal in 2012, the EYU’s requirements were proving tougher to meet for Lithuania, where 79 per cent of MSW was landfilled, and only 19 per cent recycled, in 2011.

Certainly, the figures make interesting reading for those of us involved in waste services here in the UK, showing that while great progress continues to be made, much hard work remains for many of the EU’s Member States. Contact Collect and Recycle ( today to start doing your bit to boost responsible computer disposal and other recycling practices in our own country, with our help.

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