EU raises the bar again

Posted on 4th November, 2014

Following the recent publication of a new draft European Directive that set out the plans for managing waste over the next 20 years we thought it might be worth setting out “things to come”. It has a long way to go before it is law in each of the Member States but it is reasonable to expect that this document sets out the future direction.

EU flagsAt the heart of the changes is the Circular Economy. Europe wants to rely less on virgin materials, eliminate landfill, eliminate the export of waste, create more home grown reuse and recycling jobs, reduce our carbon footprint and reduce the impact of economic growth on the environment. In other words, it wants to force waste management up the waste hierarchy towards reduction, reuse and recycling.

The big numbers for the EU as a whole look like this;

  • Greenhouse gas reduction 2-4%;
  • Reduction in food waste of 30% by 2025;
  • Reduction of municipal waste to landfill to 25% by 2024 and 0% by 2029;
  • Recycling and reuse of waste to reach 50% by 2020 and 70% by 2030;
  • Recycling and reuse of packaging waste to 60% by 2020 and 80% by 2030;
  • Extra employment in waste management 500,000;
  • Savings for EU businesses €600 billion (yes, that is the claim).


We have got to go some way before these targets and the key initiatives of this draft Directive become European law but it is clear that waste to energy is now firmly out of favour with the EU and reuse and recycling is here to stay.