One Policy Place Meeting Summary: EP ENVI Committee Meeting – Public hearing on the Waste Legislative Package (22 January 2015)

Below is a summary of the following item on the agenda:

Public hearing on the Waste Legislative Package
ENVI/8/02242
January 22nd – EP ENVI Committee

Simona Bonafe MEP (S&D)

The directive on waste is an integral part of the circular economy, Simona Bonafe opened. Waste is no longer seen as ‘waste’. It is viewed as a resource, not something to be thrown away – that’s a paradigm shift, she said.

The method of calculation whilst having a value also had difficulties, she acknowledged – what is the base, the starting point? The definition of municipal waste was an issue, she noted, and they’d have to revisit that point.

Keynote Presentations:

1. Joss Blériot, Executive Officer, Lead, Communications and Policy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
2. Peter Kurth, Vice-President, European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD)
3. Piotr Barczak, Policy Officer: Waste, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
4. Filippo Brandolini, Member, Municipal Waste Europe (MWE)
5. Virginia Janssens, Managing Director, European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN)

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1. Joss Blériot, Executive Officer, Lead, Communications and Policy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Why now? There is a coalition of factors that make it necessary and possible, he said this was:

– big pressure on resources and eco systems etc.
– investment and financial community for long term investment opportunities.
– a new type of consumer – less about owning and more about access to products.
– to facilitate those flows we have IT to track products now.

When it comes to; reuse, remanufacture, repurpose, refurbish – this is where there is opportunity. A good example was the difference between making a car engine from scratch against remanufacturing – an energy saving of 75% could be realised.

Their first report in 2012 highlighted the opportunity for European manufacturing (high value, high material sector). $400 – $600 billion per year savings possible and that would just be with minor design tweaks, he noted. No massive policy intervention either, he added.

The right signals need to be given to investors, he stressed. The route to go down was the circular economy route, he believed.

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2. Peter Kurth, Vice-President, European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD)

They represent 18 countries including Norway and Serbia. The companies they represent turnover 7.5 billion annually.

The possible withdrawal of this package would be a “fatal signal” and a “mistake”, he suggested.

There is room for improvement, he said. This would mean the right targets and the right instruments in place, he explained.

Regarding financing and infrastructure: previously, if funding was called up, it was for the building and modernisation of landfill sites and actually running counter to creating a better structure, he noted. He called for new models such as public-private partnerships.

The earlier Commissioner had a very ambitious waste management policy and had talked about the possibility of creating 180,000 jobs, Peter Kurth lamented. The employment effect would be possible, he believed. In Germany he cited over 250,000 people working in the sector. He reminded the committee that good waste management could reduce greenhouse gases and could also help create renewable energies. He said waste management should be viewed through the prism of jobs and growth, and urged for the initiatives not to be dropped.

He explained that a large majority of the new member states were experiencing serious difficulties and that many would have difficulties hitting recycling quotas by 2010. In these countries this would be a signal to them that there was “no backing wind from the commission”, he suggested and urged the Commission, “don’t send out a negative message.”

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3. Piotr Barczak, Policy Officer: Waste, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

To read the EEBs joint press release with a number of other stakeholders on the circular economy released on 22.01.2015 click here.

He began by describing the advantage of the “noise around waste” that was a chance to mobilise and share best practice experiences. The EEB represents 140 organisations and therefore represents 50 million citizens.

He said that none of Vice President Timmermans’ arguments “stood up to scrutiny.”

There is no need to procrastinate, he said, and thanked those that voted against the withdrawal of the air quality and waste packages.

When it comes to the circular economy, he explained that the circles should be “slow.” He went on to explain that this meant that the lifetime of products should be extended as much as possible.

He suggested giving incentives to the post consumption industry – this would yield repair and recycling jobs.

In a recent report the EEB identified that via repair activities, there was a possibility of creating 800k jobs. Such a figure would return ⅙ of unemployed youths back to work – that’s very important, he said.

He closed by underlining that binding targets were a must. With no targets (such as with bio-waste) this resulted in zero progress.

EU wide obligations are needed as countries won’t do anything – “we’ve seen that in history”, he concluded.

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4. Filippo Brandolini, Member, Municipal Waste Europe (MWE)

He welcomed the circular economy package with which resource efficiency becomes a key driver for economic growth and environmental protection within the EU, he opened. It’s not an ‘either/or’ between the environment or growth and jobs, he said.

He stressed, that it had to begin with prevention and focus on reuse, as that is fundamental to the whole package of the circular economy. The package gives a new definition for municipal waste, he noted.

Targets for recycling need to be high and ambitious, he added. A single uniform method for the recycling target was key, he said. He urged targets to be ambitious whilst they must also be realistic and attainable. He called for:

– a new definition of municipal waste
– a new calculation method
– recognition of range of achievements of waste management within 28 member states

He also called for specific recycling targets for food waste – the organic part of waste.

In closing he suggested that landfill reduction be applied to all waste streams – not just municipal. Technological development  must be kept up – for example with selection, he concluded.

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5. Virginia Janssens, Managing Director, European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN)

EUROPEN represent the whole supply chain, are cross sectoral, and they don’t favour a particular material. They offer a unique and balanced perspective, she explained.

She began with 3 points;

– define the what;
– define the how;
– safeguard the internal market.

These will help growth and jobs.

Step 1 is about a clear starting point for measurements – that’s harmonised and workable, she said. These would need to be consistently applied across the EU, she added.

Step 2 is about setting realistic EU recycling targets based on step 1. “We are asking for legislation as we believe it is the basis for sound waste management planning and investment.”

EPR (extended producer responsibility) was in need of binding performance targets to work, she closed with.

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Simona Bonafe MEP (S&D) asked how can investment be improved?

1. Joss Blériot, Executive Officer, Lead, Communications and Policy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

– invest in collection schemes and reverse logistics
– invest in design for material choices

2. Peter Kurth, Vice-President, European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD)

– how do we get finance into member states? Often funds don’t end up where they need to be – waste hierachy dont want money going to landfills, for example.

3. Piotr Barczak, Policy Officer: Waste, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

– need to be careful in not investing in over capacity in eastern countries
– he posed a question saying that it was his understanding of the Juncker Plan and investment that investment would stay, even if the original proposal was kept

4. Filippo Brandolini, Member, Municipal Waste Europe (MWE)

– we feel we support research into lengthening product life
– systems and plant research to recover and recycle waste
– promote in regions where there is less infrastructure

5. Virginia Janssens, Managing Director, European Organization for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN)

– first invest in clear legislation in waste management
– then of course as per previous invest in collection and sorting and share best practice between member states.
– where we can we must invest more in research and innovation.
– need to invest in educational aspects and target schools so consumers are aware of the importance of sorting waste.

The debate closed with answers on waste separation in response to a question by Luke Ming Flanagan (GUE/NGL), who cited his own frustrations with separating waste. The majority of speakers agreed it was best to solve this problem, where possible, through design and innovation. The debate came full circle you could say, as innovation brings jobs and growth – a key message from the stakeholders today.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the European Parliament serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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