EU Circular Economy Package Agreed - AD to boom across EU

In December the European Commission, Council and Parliament provisionally agreed the Circular Economy Package of measures in waste, which they have been negotiating for many years.

This agreement moves the EU towards a higher level of sustainability in waste management over the coming ten years or so, with some stretching ambitions. Of course to date the UK government has only agreed to introduce new EU legislation up to the point at which it leaves the EU in March 2019, so it is not certain whether this will be implemented in the UK.

The package amends the following pieces of EU legislation:

  • Waste Framework Directive (considered the umbrella legislative act of the package)
  • Packaging Waste Directive
  • Landfill Directive
  • Directives on electrical and electronic waste, on end-of-life vehicles; and on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators

The following targets relevant to food waste and AD were agreed:

  • Municipal waste recyling: 55% in 2025, 60% in 2030 and 65% in 2035. i.e. EU member states to significantly increase recycling rates, including of food waste. Under the trilogue agreement, all authorities will be obliged to measure recycling rates at input to the last recycling process, or otherwise to estimate the losses occurring after first sorting operations.
  • The introduction of separate biowaste collections across the EU by 2025. The agreement also states that "stricter requirements for the separate collection of waste" will be introduced compare to previous versions. This could mean (although the final text has yet to be published) a previous reference to only introducing separate food waste collections where it is Technically, Economically and Environmentally Practicable may not be included. Food waste could therefore be introduced in every household except in circumstances where the European Commission has approved a specific derogation.

The new laws will come into force in the beginning of 2018 and will need to be transposed into national legislation within 24 months. If we assume that this means the introduction of the Circular Economy Package at EU level in March-June 2018, then it would be due for implementation in the UK in March-June 2020, which would be the middle of the UK's transition or implementation period of leaving the EU. Therefore, this in all likelihood would mean that the UK may have a choice about whether to implement this in legislation (unless it becomes part of the EU-UK negotiations, which may be unlikely as it is not a single market issue). 

Of course Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have already introduced separate food waste collections, so the question is whether England will join the club. It is important that England does not let its environmental standards slip below that of every other nation in the EU and in the UK on this topic. We will of course be writing to both the government and the opposition to request that they lead on the issue rather than lag behind.

Introducing separate food waste collections across the EU will bea boom to AD, which is the best method for treating food waste. However, we have to ensure the pace is picked up in England too. 

Posted in: Policy updates

Tags: European Union, circular economy package, anaerobic digestion, biogas, food waste, Defra