Commission to review Waste Framework Directive

The European Commission has today (14 February) detailed plans for a revision of the Waste Framework Directive in four areas.

The four topics are: waste prevention, separate collection, waste oils and textiles.

All are areas which have been discussed by the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and feature in the Resources and Waste Strategy.

The UK authorities are seen as likely to watch closely the European Commission’s moves to revise the Waste Framework Directive which is the fundamental piece of legislation that has shaped waste legislation across Europe including the UK.

Explaining its plans to look at a WFD revision, the Commission’s directorate-general for environment said today: “Despite existing legislation, municipal waste generation has increased over the last decade. Low recycling rates, as well as lower quality recyclates, are in part due to inefficient waste-collection systems. For some specific streams, such as waste oils and textiles, evidence indicates that the polluter pays principle is not fully implemented and that some waste may be illegally disposed of, leading to pollution.”

Polluter Pays

The directorate-general explained that the revision of the WFD aims to improve the “overall environmental outcome” of waste management in line with the waste hierarchy and the implementation of the polluter pays principle.

A call for evidence is now open on the topic areas and is also expected to help the Commission identify potential additional problems that might be considered for action. And, a broader set of consultations is planned in the first half of 2022 to ensure that, across a series of activities, “all relevant stakeholders are given an opportunity to express their views on the current performance of the WFD, including what may be  working well or not, and how it could be improved”.

The Commission’s move to consider revising the WFD comes against what it portrays as the member states likely to miss recycling targets.

Municipal waste

The Commission said that despite the existing legislation on waste, total waste generated has been increasing over the last decade, particularly municipal waste.

It noted: “The European Environment Agency (EEA) reviews on waste prevention show that the EU is not on course to meet its policy goal of reducing waste generation. The EEA report on progress towards preventing waste in Europe concludes that member states rarely set targets and indicators in their WPPs, hampering the monitoring of waste prevention.

Over half of member states are at risk of not reaching the 2025 preparation for re-use and recycling targets for municipal waste

– European Commission

“In 2018, only 38% of total waste and in 2019, 48% of municipal waste was recycled in the EU with the figures varying considerably among member states – ranging from 10% to over 60%. The initial conclusions of the EEA assessments in support of the early-warning mechanism show that over half of member states are at risk of not reaching the 2025 preparation for re-use and recycling targets for municipal waste. Sub-optimal waste collection, sorting and treatment leads to resources being lost and to greater environmental and human health impacts.”

Related link
European Commission Waste Framework Review – Call for Evidence

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