Today -24th May 2012- the European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution on a Resource Efficient Europe which, if implemented, could put the EU on the road for Zero Waste for 2020.
In this resolution the EP joins the European Commission in expressing the need to bring residual waste close to zero and consequently calls on the European Commission to make proposals by 2014 with a view to gradually introducing a ban on landfill in Europe and for the phasing-out by 2020 of incineration of recyclable and compostable waste (point 33)
As you can see in the graph on the left, currently 80% of the municipal solid waste in Europe is recyclable or compostable and if the ecodesign directive is boosted in the way the EP asks for in point 5, it is likely that non-recyclable, non-compostable products by 2020 will be less than 5% of total MSW. Hence, this practically means the end of waste disposal in Europe.
It also urges the European Commission to agree by 2013 on clear, robust and measurable indicators for economic activity that can take account of climate change, biodiversity and resource efficiency from a life-cycle perspective. (point 2)
This resolution paves the way for radical changes in how waste is managed in Europe but let’s not forget that no legal binding measures have been taken yet. Currently:
- the market incentives and subsidies in Europe go to finance incineration and not prevention or recycling,
- energy generation has priority before energy saving (i.e. if you burn paper you get subsidy for renewable energy if you recycle it there is no prime or subsidy),
So, institutionally now we have all the declarations of intentions on the side of Zero Waste, time to make the EU waste legislation fit for the challenge!