EU formally adopts new rules for waste management and recycling

The EU Council has formally adopted the circular economy package which sets out new rules for waste management and establishes legally binding targets for recycling. As per the new rules, member states will have to meet the following targets as they increase the reuse and recycling of municipal waste.

The new recycling targets for municipal waste will be 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035; while for all packaging waste it will be 65% by 2025 and 70% by 2030. The recycling target for plastics will be 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030; while for ferrous metals it will be 70% by 2025 and 80% by 2030; for aluminium it will be 50% by 2025 and 60% by 2030; and for paper & cardboard the set target is 75% by 2025 and 85% by 2030.

The package also looks at separate collections. Member states will set up, by 1 January 2025, separate collections of textiles and hazardous waste from households. In addition, by 31 December 2023, they are expected to ensure that biowaste is either collected separately or recycled at source (e. g. home composting). This is in addition to the separate collection which already exists for paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastic, as per the press statement. The legislation contains a landfill reduction target, and sets minimum requirements for all extended producer responsibility schemes.

Producers of products covered by these schemes must take responsibility for the management of the waste stage of their products, and will be required to contribute financially. Mandatory extended producer responsibility schemes for all packaging have also been introduced. Member states shall endeavour to ensure that as of 2030, all waste suitable for recycling or other recovery, in particular in municipal waste, shall not be accepted in a landfill.

The waste package will lead to more recycling of waste and so contribute to the creation of a circular economy. It will encourage the use of recyclable packaging and reusable packaging and will improve the way waste is managed. The rules were part of a package consisting of legislative proposals on waste that the European Commission presented on 3 December 2015 as part of the circular economy plan.

On 19 May 2017, EU ambassadors agreed a mandate on the package, paving the way for trilogues, which kicked off on 30 May 2017. After several rounds of negotiations, a provisional agreement between the Estonian presidency and the European Parliament was reached on 18 December, and EU ambassadors endorsed the agreement on 23 February.