Closing the loop

Nearly a year after the initial Circular Economy Package was withdrawn, the European Commission launched a revised proposal in December. Resource discussed the new package with European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella 

Following the original package’s withdrawal, you said the revised version would be more ‘country specific’. How does the new package reflect this aim?

This article was taken from Issue 83

The diversity of starting points among EU member states – 64 per cent of recycling in some, 10 per cent in others – is huge. The success for making the transition to the circular economy depends on making real progress on the ground, across Europe, so that no member state is left behind. The clearest reflection of this is that member states which in 2013 recycled less than 20 per cent of their municipal waste can, if they so wish, get additional time to comply with the EU recycling and landfill targets. The commission is also committed to providing technical assistance: €5.5 billion (£4 billion) from Structural Funds is earmarked for waste management projects to help lagging regions catch up. If progress is steady, we will review the targets in 2025 to increase to 70 per cent of municipal recycling. 

Along similar lines, which member states do you think the lower-performing countries should look to for models of best practice?

Best practices for separate waste collection, use of economic incentives, waste infrastructure investment planning, high recycling and low landfilling rates can be found in many parts of the EU. In 2013, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands recycled and composted more than half of their municipal waste. Among the ‘new’ member states, Slovenia has made very rapid progress in waste management and Ljubljana has committed to becoming the first Zero Waste Capital.