Action plans aimed at helping the fourteen member states considered to be at greatest risk of missing the EU’s 2020 recycling targets have been published in a key report by environmental consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment.
his project came under the Waste Framework Directive‘s Early Warning System, which requires the European Commission to develop Early Warning Reports to assess the progress Member States have made towards achieving the targets.
The Early Warning Reports provide an estimation of whether the targets will be achieved by the deadline, as well as identifying countries at risk of missing the targets, and developing relevant Priority Actions to help the country achieve the target.
Following a review of all member states progress towards the European Commission’s 2020 preparation for reuse/recycling target on municipal waste of 50%, Eunomia found fourteen countries lagging behind – even after current policy measures were taken into account.
After in-depth assessments of the fourteen member states, the consultancy prepared early warning reports offering a general overview of problems, before working closely with the relevant member states to develop priority action plans designed to improve their waste management systems. The fourteen countries identified as at risk include: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. Each country now has a blueprint for action, bespoke to its context, and designed to deliver the progress needed within the coming years.
Recommended actions vary, but many include: more effective separate collection to ensure high quality recycling, improving operation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, economic instruments such as landfill and incineration taxes, and improved data quality.
Landfilling, although the least preferable waste treatment option, is still common practice in some parts of Europe – in 2016 the average landfilling rate for municipal waste in the EU stood at 24%, but in ten Member states it was over 50%, and five countries reported rates of over 70%. Proposals to withdraw funding for residual waste treatment have also recently been put forward to encourage Member states to focus waste strategies and plans at the top of the waste hierarchy.