The EU has proposed higher recycling targets in a bid to transform Europe’s economy into one where nothing is wasted, supporting sustainable growth and a zero-waste economy.
Under the new targets, European countries will:
- Ban the burying of recyclable waste in landfill after 2025
- Recycle 70% of municipal waste (everyday rubbish) and 80% of packaging by 2030
- Reduce marine litter and food waste.
Anticipated benefits of a zero-waste economy include:
- An economy with a lower environmental impact and reduced CO2 emissions
- Less demand for costly, scarce resources
- New jobs in waste management, recovery & reuse.
The EU is working towards a “circular economy” or zero-waste economy, in which reusing, repairing and recycling materials is the norm – instead of extracting raw materials, using them once and discarding them.
- In 2010, some 400 – 500 million tonnes of waste that could have been reused or recycled were instead landfilled or burned in Europe.
- Managing waste as a valuable resource could boost EU competitiveness on the global stage and reduce our reliance on key raw materials, including fossil fuels, quarried aggregates and hardwoods.
A target ratio of an economy’s Gross Domestic Product to its consumption of raw materials (resource productivity) could be set as part of strategic waste management plans.
The EU says the move towards a circular economy can be driven by:
- Designing products that are easier to repair, upgrade and recycle.
- Creating better performing products that last longer, and more efficient production processes.
- Reducing the use of materials that are hazardous or difficult to recycle.
- Providing incentives to reduce waste.
- Turning waste into a resource through technical advances.
The proposals come alongside a series of EU initiatives to seize the growth and employment opportunities offered by greening the economy, and to make new buildings more environment-friendly.