EU Parliament calls for legislated recycling targets

Legislative body ties resource conservation goals to its Circular Economy efforts.

July 10, 2015
RTGE Staff

Legislators in the European Parliament, co-located in Brussels and Strasbourg, France, have voted in favor of “a 30 percent increase in resource productivity by 2030” within its member nations, saying such recycling efforts “could boost [the EU’s] GDP by nearly 1 percent and create an extra 2 million sustainable jobs.”

In a vote taken Thursday, July 9, the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) passed a resolution that does not yet include “binding waste-reduction targets, revamped eco design laws and measures to uncouple growth from resource use,” although they called on the European Commission to offer such legislation by the end of 2015.

“This is a paradigm shift, a systemic change that we are facing, as well as a huge, hidden, business opportunity. It can be created only by helping a new business ecosystem to emerge,” says MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen of Finland, who helped introduce the resolution.

“To make this happen, we need legislative, informative, economic and cooperative actions,” Pietikäinen continues. “First, we need a set of indicators and targets. We need a review of existing legislation, as it fails to incorporate the value of ecosystem services. We need a broadening of the scope of the eco design directive, a renewal of the waste directive and a special focus on certain areas like sustainable buildings.”

New binding waste reduction (landfill diversion) targets could lead to the creation of up to 180,000 jobs, MEPs say. They have called on the Commission to propose such targets by the end of 2015, as well as a gradual reduction of all landfill volumes.

MEPs also have called on the Commission to promote the creation in member nations of conventions enabling the food retail sector to distribute unsold food to charity associations.

A news release from the European Parliament states, “MEPs urge the Commission to promote a life cycle approach to product policy and eco design, with an ambitious work program [that] should include reviewing eco design legislation by the end of 2016, with a view to broadening its scope and covering all product groups. They also ask the Commission to define requirements for criteria such as durability, repairability, reusability and recyclability and to draw up measures to eliminate planned obsolescence.”

The news release also includes language that could be construed by secondary commodity traders as protectionist, saying, “Indicators for resource efficiency, measuring resource consumption, including imports and exports, and their use should be mandatory from 2018. MEPs call for an EU-wide resource efficiency increase target of 30 percent by 2030 (from 2014 levels), as well as individual targets for each member [nation].”

According to a news report on, the government of the United Kingdom “has been calling for a weakening of the original [Circular Economy] plans, lobbying against binding recycling targets in favor of voluntary goals that it claims will be less burdensome for businesses.”