A Golden Opportunity for Recycling?

The Resource Association has given a glowing and optimistic view in response to new European Union recycling consultation document.  The document outlined new proposals that are currently under discussion by the EU.  This post takes a look at what they are, and the likelihood of how far the EU will go in relation to overhauling Europe wide recycling.

It is clear that the Resource Association wants to see recycling policy change quite radically. Ray Georgeson, chief executive of the Resource Association, left little room for doubt where their opinion was concerned.

He said: “We urge the European Commission to be true to its stated ambition for the circular economy and signal a clear timetable in its action plan that will lead to underpinning legislative proposals where they are needed.

“In the more immediate short term, we have taken the opportunity in our Position Paper and formal response to encourage the Commission to be bold in its review of waste legislation. Quality recycling needs to be at the heart of this, and the review provides a golden opportunity to do just that and provide recycling policy and practice with the reboot that it badly needs.”

Recycling Reboot

Broadly speaking the Resource Association (RA) wants to:

  • Make the separation of biowaste mandatory and set up better systems for collecting plastics, paper, glass, and metal, with the view of improving the quality of secondary raw materials and reducing contamination.
  • A change in how we measure recycling.  The RA wants to switch from weight based percentages to point of ‘final recycling’ at reprocessor plants and introduce other metrics to measure recycling.
  • Enforce Waste Shipment Regulations more rigorously
  • Clear guidance on acceptable levels of contamination standardised across the European Union and focus on preventing waste crime more effectively.
  • Clear long term goals and targets in relation to recycling for all European Union Member States.
  • Eco-design to be encouraged through using ‘demand pull’ measures, and investment in recycling infrastructure to facilitate the reuse of secondary raw materials.
  • A phased approach of banning recyclables to landfill.
  • Avoiding undermining reuse and recycling by increasing the time to incineration for waste

Recycling to Move Forward or Remain Unchanged?

Whether the European Union will adopt these measures remains to be seen.  Policies of this kind become complex as different groups with competing interests have their say.  The consultation the Resource Association responded to is one piece of the puzzle. 

So what will influence the European Union’s Policy Making? 

One of the most influential aspects of EU decision making is arguably the 3000 lobbying groups based in Brussels.  This can and does change the course of European Union policy-making, and represents interests that take a counterview to that of the Resource Association.  

This could lead to a watering down of proposals as well as the outright scrapping of some of them. 

Nonetheless taking a more optimistic view, it is good to see organisations such as the Resource Association taking the lead and calling for better and more purposeful recycling policy. There can be no denying their passion and desire to make the recycling industry better, and head towards a ‘circular economy’.

Only time will tell if the European Union agrees and supports their suggestions.