Resource Use

Spain becomes first EU country to set target for reuse

Spain becomes first EU country to set target for reuse
Spain has become the first European country to set a separate and binding national reuse target, while RREUSE, the body representing social enterprises active in reuse, repair and recycling, has called for similar targets to be included in the revised Circular Economy Package (CEP).

Spain’s new waste management plan for 2016-2022, which was presented at a workshop in Brussels earlier this month, has set a 50 per cent target of waste to be recycled and prepared for reuse. Within this, at least two per cent of furniture, textiles and electrical items must be redirected from both landfill and recycling to be sent for repair and resale.

In a position paper on the CEP proposals published this week (28 April), RREUSE has stated that quantitative targets for reuse are needed in the European Commission’s CEP.

Spanish Waste Plan

The Spanish Waste Plan follows on from a new law set last year that requires two per cent of large electrical goods and three per cent of IT equipment to be reused from 2017.

The new plan has a much larger scope and covers more waste streams. Based on Eurostat data, RREUSE estimates its implementation will mean over 200,000 tonnes of goods will now be sold secondhand rather than being recycled or sent to landfill.

As well as the new reuse target, social enterprises dealing in the processing and resale of secondhand goods will be granted preferential access to waste collection points to source goods for resale.

RREUSE says that by supporting social enterprises, which have provided a route back to employment for thousands of Europeans ‘traditionally isolated from the job market,’ the new plan will provide jobs in addition to increasing reuse.

Although the Belgian region of Flanders has set a similar target for reuse and France has set separate reuse objective for certain waste streams such as furniture, Spain is the first European country to set a mandatory, national reuse target.

Reuse ‘critically important’

The European Commission’s CEP, a strategy for moving Europe towards a more circular economy, was launched in December of last year. The strategy includes proposals to amend EU waste laws, but has yet to go through the legislative procedures of the EU, which will involve the European Parliament and environment ministers agreeing to a final version.

The published response of RREUSE to the CEP includes suggestions on how laws could be further amended to reduce the waste of energy and resources and to ‘help foster and develop reuse centres and networks.’

According to RREUSE, “[I]t is critically important that reuse of unwanted but reusable goods is the top priority, above recycling and that the role of social enterprises in the sector is explicitly supported within the legal text.”

Suggested measures to be introduced into the CEP include clarification of the definition of ‘preparing for reuse’ and associated methodology, the introduction of reuse targets separate from those for recycling and the alteration of extended producer responsibility regulations to support preparation for reuse and repair.

In addition, RREUSE believes that incentives and targets are needed within the Packaging Waste Directive, that concrete legislation is necessary to improve the ‘ease of repair’ of products and that the role of social enterprises must be ‘explicitly supported’.

RREUSE claims multiple benefits will be formed if these measures are included within the revised CEP. These include reduced regulatory burden for secondhand operators, increased access to reusable products, the creation of thousands of local jobs, durable design and the reuse of packaging.

Putting secondhand first

Michal Len, director of RREUSE, said: “It is staggering how many reusable items of clothing, furniture and electrical goods still end up in the trash, sent for recycling, landfill or incineration. This new Spanish law is a really positive step to ensure that at least some of the reusable products that end up at municipal waste collection points, are saved, repaired and resold, before they get buried or burned.

“We hope that other countries will follow Spain’s example, and that the EU will also mandate a separate target for preparing for reuse in the ongoing revision of the Circular Economy Package. Putting secondhand first is good for the environment and can be a significant source of much-needed jobs across Europe.”

RREUSE’s Circular Economy Package position paper can be downloaded from its website.

You can also read RREUSE Director Michal Len’s comment for Resource on the reuse credentials of the Circular Economy Package.