Insight | Winter 2016

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Our Regulatory Affairs Director, Ray Parmenter, provides an overview of the Circular Economy Package story so far.

The European Commission (EC) published its proposals for a package of measures to stimulate the circular economy at the end of 2015. That package consisted of an Action Plan and a range of revisions to many of the waste related directives. 

Policy makers held a number of meetings in January to discuss the opportunities for, and the obstacles to a European Circular Economy, this culminated in a conference at the end of January at which Veolia took part. In February the EC argued for a stronger role for Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs) in dealing with non-recyclable waste. In a policy paper to be published later this year they will also assess the potential for moving combustible non-recyclable waste from member states with high landfill rates and low ERF capacity to member states with ERF overcapacity.

At the end of February European Economy ministers gave their support for the Circular Economy Action Plan, but expressed concerns that it could create difficulties for companies  to adapt to this new environment, particularly SME's. In March the EC presented its first deliverable of Circular Economy Package with proposed new rules on organic and waste-based fertilisers. The reuse of raw materials that are now disposed as waste is one of the key principles of the package, and the proposed new Regulation will significantly ease the access of organic and waste-based fertilisers to the EU single market, and create new market opportunities.

In April the out-going Dutch President indicated that the aim of the Circular Economy Package is to focus on the harmonisation of definitions, and to decide on a single calculation method, before speaking about recycling targets. However, the in-coming Slovakian President indicated that her aim was to have a clear target to minimise landfill.

May was a busy month for the EU Circular Economy Package, culminating with the tabling of over one hundred draft amendments to the waste related directives (Waste Framework, Landfill and Packaging). The most significant set of amendments were proposed by the Parliamentary Rapporteur Simona Bonafè from Italy. The headline grabbing amendments were the removal of the TEEP clauses from the Articles on separate collections of recyclates and bio-wastes, the requirement to separately collect household hazardous waste, the requirement to decontaminate packaging containing hazardous waste, and the reinstatement of the 70% recycling target by 2030.
The European Parliament Environment (ENVI) Committee will discuss the circular economy package and to adopt any amendments at their September meeting. The adoption of the ENVI Committee Report is scheduled for November, and the likely publication of the package of measures will be sometime in early 2017.
Estelle Brachlianoff | The benefits of Circular Economy

Whilst Brexit will obviously change our relationship with the EU and the legislation that it issues, it is worth noting that that the outgoing Environment Minister, Rory Stewart, said last year that he envisages the UK to be at the forefront of the circular economy.