EU Member States should stabilize waste production by 2012, says Environment Committee

Nachfolgend wird eine geringfügig veränderte und gekürzte Pressemitteilung des Europäischen Parlaments dokumentiert.

Waste production should be stabilized by 2012, said the Environment Committee in a second reading report, adopted Tuesday, on a proposal to revise the EU framework directive on waste. The committee voted to reinstate most of Parliament’s first reading amendments that were not taken up by the Council, and reiterated Parliament’s call for re-use and recycling targets.

Over 1.8 billion tonnes of waste are generated each year in Europe. This amount is growing faster than GDP and less than a third of it is recycled. Some Member States landfill 90% of their municipal waste, others only 10%. In September 2005, the European Commission proposed an overhaul of the 1975 directive, largely to lay down rules on recycling and to require Member States to draw up binding national programmes for cutting waste production.

Binding targets for waste stabilisation, re-use and recycling

In the second reading report by Caroline Jackson (EPP-ED, UK), adopted with 42 in favour, none against and 14 abstentions, MEPs call for total waste production to be stabilized by 2012, compared to the 2009 position. Member States are asked to establish waste prevention programmes not later than five years after the revised directive’s entry into force and to determine appropriate specific targets to achieve the 2012 target and further significant reductions in waste generation by 2020.

MEPs also call for targets for reuse and recycling. By 2020, re-use and recycling rates should be increased to a minimum of 50% by weight for household waste and a minimum of 70% by weight for construction and demolition waste and manufacturing and industrial waste. Member States with less than 5% recycling in either category or no official figures would be given an additional 5 years to reach the targets.

By 2015 the Member States would have to set up separate waste collection schemes for at least the following: paper, metal, plastic, glass, textiles, other biodegradable wastes, oils and hazardous wastes.


For MEPs, a crucial aim is to reduce the amount of landfill and incineration, both of which cause pollution. Members were divided over whether incineration should be regarded as a „disposal“ or a „recovery“ operation. In Tuesday’s vote they backed the Commission and Council position that it should be categorised as recovery, provided it meets a certain energy efficiency standard (energy efficiency formula in annex to the directive). Amendments seeking to delete the energy efficiency formula were rejected in a close vote (24 votes to 29). But MEPs voted for the formula to be reviewed by the co-legislators within two years of the directive’s entry into force (28 votes to 27).

At the first reading, a majority of MEPs had rejected the idea that incineration should be regarded as recovery and had deleted the energy efficiency formula.

MEPs want Member States to stick to binding five-stage hierarchy

MEPs want to make the application of the five-stage waste hierarchy, which is designed to prevent and reduce waste production, more certain and comprehensive. The hierarchy also lays down an order of preference for waste operations: prevention, re-use, recycling, other recovery operations and, as a last resort, safe and environmentally sound disposal. MEPs want to move the article on the waste hierarchy to a more prominent place in the directive and want Member States to treat it „as a general rule“, rather than as a „guiding principle“ as proposed by Council. Departing from the hierarchy may be possible where it is justified by „life cycle“ thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste.

Some figures

The 1.8 billion tonnes of waste generated each year in Europe works out at 3.5 tonnes per person. This consists mainly of waste from households, commercial activities (e.g., shops, restaurants, hospitals etc.), industry (e.g. pharmaceutical companies, clothes manufacturers etc.), agriculture (e.g. slurry), construction and demolition projects, mining and quarrying activities and from energy generation.

Municipal waste generation averages 530kg per person per year, an average that masks significant differences among Member States. For example, per capita waste generation is 300 to 350 kg per annum in the EU-10 Member States, but around 570 kg in the EU-15.

In 2005, 49% of EU municipal waste was disposed of through landfill, 18% was incinerated and 27% recycled or composted.

Parliament’s rapporteur, Caroline Jackson, now hopes to negotiate a „second reading agreement“ with Council so that the Parliament can give its final agreement to the directive in the June plenary. Otherwise negotiations will continue into the autumn under the conciliation procedure.

Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
In the Chair : Miroslav OUZKÝ (EPP-ED, CZ)

REF.: 20080407IPR25906