BBIA calls for broader biowaste definition in CEP

BBIA calls for broader biowaste definition in CEPA broader definition for ‘biowaste’ and obligatory separate collection of organic waste are two of the measures that should be included in a revised Circular Economy Package, according to the Bio-Based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA).

In an open letter sent last week to Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the President of the European Council of Environment Ministers during the Netherlands’s EU Presidency, the BBIA set out a number of recommendations regarding biowaste, organic recycling and green procurement ahead of further discussion on the European Union’s Circular Economy Package.

According to Managing Director David Newman, who wrote the letter, the BBIA sees the package as a ‘unique opportunity to drive forward environmental protection in Europe over the next two decades’. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, Newman says, a strong package is needed.

To this end, the BBIA suggests four measures to reinforce the influence of the package.

Separate food waste collection

According to the BBIA, biowaste is the largest single stream in municipal solid waste and among the most polluting, while good-quality soil improvers made from biowaste are necessary to combat increasing desertification and impoverishment of our soils. To ensure good-quality organic carbon matter gets back to soil, says Newman, biowaste must be intercepted through separate collection. The BBIA therefore suggests that separate collection should be made compulsory for certain municipalities (based on population) and sites (based on waste) throughout the EU by 2020.

At the moment, Newman says that many operators and municipalities do not collect food waste separately, and he warns that the wording of the proposed Circular Economy Package, which would only require separate collection where technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) is ‘a mistake’. The ambiguity in the wording means that authorities can avoid a system change after an internal assessment, as shown by the fact that only eight British waste collection authorities have brought in separate collection for key recyclable materials since the revised Waste Framework Directive’s TEEP rule was transposed into UK law at the beginning of 2015.

BBIA calls for broader biowaste definition in CEPDefinitions

The association, which works to represent and promote the circular bioeconomy sector in the UK, also says that the definition of biowaste needs to be broadened to include materials and products made to decompose in industrial or domestic composting.

At the moment, it says, these materials are exempt from the definition, which ‘hinders the collection and treatment of compostable materials… and therefore is a barrier to their production’. Newman states that compostable materials in packaging can be used to raise levels of biowaste interception, and so including packaging materials that are compostable into the definition would strengthen European industries producing such materials.

Newman also says that the Waste Framework Directive needs to be revised to define organic recycling as composting and anaerobic digestion, on a par with other forms of mechanical recycling.

Finally, Newman suggests that imposing Green Public Procurement (GPP) standards and criteria would drive product redesign and reduce product impacts on the environment. The European Commission’s Expert Group for Bio-based Products last month (April) recommended GPP as a way forward to create markets and develop a European industrial bioeconomy.

Newman said: “The USA Preferred Purchasing Programme for bio-based materials introduced in 2002 has driven an industry now worth US$370 billion (£250 billion) and over four million direct and indirect jobs, at zero cost to the taxpayer and with over 14,000 products registered in the programme. Recognising the differences with the USA, it would be interesting to adopt such a template.”

Commenting on the proposals, Newman wrote: “[A strong Circular Economy Package] will of course be opposed by those thinking that new targets or regulations are an unnecessary obstacle to their businesses. Some governments will stress to you that new targets involve increasing costs and more work for them. Environmental progress has always faced opposition and today is no exception. To maintain Europe’s leadership in environmentally-friendly industrial development, a strong CEP is needed.”

More information and a copy of the letter can be read at BBIA’s website.