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[greenyes] Europeans Invited to Shape New Waste Strategy
This article may be of interest to people. It's from the Environmental News
Service, at

John Reindl

Europeans Invited to Shape New Waste Strategy 

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 27, 2003 (ENS) - The trash is mounting up in Europe,
and today the European Commission issued a policy statement that sets the
stage for new laws which attempt to diminish the ever-growing piles. The
formal statement launches a broad consultation exercise on how to avoid
generating waste, how to reduce the use of resources, and which wastes to

Each EU citizen currently produces an average of 550 kilograms (kg) (1,212.5
pounds) of municipal waste every year. This is far beyond the target of 330
kg (727.5 pounds) established in the EU's 1993 Fifth Environment Action

This amount of waste "constitutes a major waste management problem and has
significant environmental impact," the Commission said today. 

Market based approaches would be the most efficient way of starting a "waste
production diet" and moving towards a recycling economy, the Commission
proposed. Contrary to what most people think, the Commission said, the cost
of recycling is often well above that of incineration or landfill. 

"To save resources and avoid pollution," Wallstrom said, "the Commission is
determined to put new focus on waste prevention and recycling. We obviously
need new targets and measures, but I want to be sure that we base them on
the best available knowledge. That is why we are launching a broad
consultation process. I hope stakeholders will provide us with their
comments and ideas." 

On the basis of comments received from the public over the next six months
in reaction to the formal policy, "Towards a Thematic Strategy on Waste
Prevention and Recycling," the Commission will determine its final
objectives and decide what measures to propose for final adoption by the
Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. 

The Commission confesses it has little idea how to proceed on the waste
prevention front. Existing waste prevention targets have generally failed,
it notes. A lack of reliable EU statistics means current trends will not be
clear until 2008. Neither is it clear what measures should be used to
influence trends, said the Commission, calling for a "fuller scientific

To gather more substantial information, the Commission is seeking input on
quantitative waste prevention targets and measures that will ensure that
these targets are met. 

Possible measures include waste prevention plans developed through the
involvement of industry sectors and individual companies. 

Low waste production techniques in European industries could be mandated or
encouraged by the Commission. The most effective national strategies amongst
the EU member states could be identified and broadened to the EU level. 

Targets are to be set only in next year's strategy, based on studies
currently underway. Material recycling targets should be set at the EU
level, not country by country, the Commission says, providing flexibility
for a pan-European recycling industry. 

Targets that are indicative-only could be set for some waste streams, such
as household waste. As well as a recycling target, there may also be a
source separation target and a dismantling target established for each

EU recycling policy could be improved in several ways, the policy statement
proposes. Comments are invited on potential measures such as setting
recycling targets for materials. Currently, EU law requires the recycling of
materials from certain wastes - packaging, cars, electronics - but does not
require the recycling of these same materials when they are used in other

Getting the prices of the different waste treatment options right is an
important step, says the Commission. Despite strict EU legislation,
disposing of waste in landfills and incinerators is often still cheaper than

The policy paper proposes to correct this imbalance through tradable
certificates, the coordination of national landfill taxes, promoting pay as
you throw schemes and making producers responsible for recycling. 

The Commission is attempting to ensure that recycling is both easy and
clean. In some cases, implementation of EU waste law may have led to
unnecessary burdens on the recycling industry that "need to be identified
and solved." 

Where recycling in the EU is still undertaken with poor technology, common
approaches should be developed to ensure that recycling businesses apply the
best available technology. 

Finally, the Commission says it will try to resolve long standing disputes
over EU definitions of waste, recycling, recovery and disposal. Preparatory
studies are already underway. 

All stakeholders are invited to provide comments before November 30. These
will be taken into account when the Thematic Strategy is drafted. It is
expected to be presented in 2004. This Thematic Strategy will be one of the
seven Thematic Strategies mentioned in the Sixth Environment Action

Further information is available at:
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2003. All Rights Reserved. 

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