DS Smith: EC Circular Economy Package – more ambition needed

DS Smith welcomes the Circular Economy Package from the European Commission but believes it should be more ambitious.

It is disappointing to see a significant reduction in the aspirations to reduce landfill and increase recycling. With original proposals of a total ban on landfill and a 70% target recycling rate, we are not truly challenging ourselves to be the generation that protected the world’s resources by putting an end to the throwaway culture developed across much of the developed world.

“While we welcome the publication of the Circular Economy Package we feel there are some missed opportunities where the European Commission could have developed a stronger programme,” said DS Smith Business Development and External Affairs Manager Peter Clayson.

“The package reflects the need to look at the whole lifecycle of a product from the design stage through to the end of its life. We welcome the proposal to differentiate financial contributions paid by producers under an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme that rewards those who design products that can be more easily recycled or reused.

“Material efficiency and design for reuse, repair and recycling should be embedded in all products from the design stage. Part of this process should include incentives to encourage recovery and recycling at the end of a product’s life.

“While a binding target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10% is good news I wonder if increasing the recycling targets for municipal waste to 65% by 2030 is ambitious enough. The targets are still weight based, rather than moving to a carbon metric that would better reflect materials’ environmental impact.

“In too many areas the programme does not go far enough to tackle what is required. The Commission accepts that incineration is better than landfill but could have done more to stop the huge volumes of recyclable materials that are needlessly incinerated through poor collection choices. We will have to wait and see what the Waste to Energy initiative will deliver, but the Commission has missed the opportunity to ensure materials are truly treated within the waste hierarchy from top to bottom, rather than the current situation.

“Leaving it up to member states to introduce financial penalties, such as incineration charges, does not give as strong a message as a definitive policy stated within the package.

“We welcome the introduction that food waste should be collected separately, but specific food waste reduction targets would produce a clear signal on how to tackle this growing waste problem.

“Overall the Package includes much detail of future work and proposals to adopt strategies that have yet to be developed. We were expecting a more definitive programme at this stage.”

Source: DS Smith