Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Waste management and circular economy

Environment - 04.04.2006

Thematic strategy on waste prevention and recycling: CEMR calls for more policy clarity
We need policy clarity for investments in waste management. This is one of the main messages CEMR sent to the European Parliament's rapporteur on the thematic strategy on waste prevention and recycling. Indeed, local and regional authorities are responsible for a significant part of the implementation of EU waste legislation, and need certainty as for the costly medium to long term investments to ensure quality waste management.

The EP rapporteur, Johannes Blockland, and shadow rapporteur Mojca Drcar Murko, met with CEMR waste experts, on 30 March 2006 in Brussels. CEMR's members explained that the current waste hierarchy (a five level waste management hierarchy that puts prevention and reuse at the top, then, by decreasing order, recycling, energy recovery, and disposal as environmentally-friendly as possible) should remain the main reference for the Thematic Strategy. They also stressed that the proposed new 'end of waste" procedure (the European Commission and experts deciding, on a case by case basis and according to some criteria, if certain wastes should stop being defined as waste) should not deregulate the EU waste sector. CEMR is in favour of a strong internal market for quality recovered and recycled products and thus favours strict standards on the quality of such products. All new instruments having an important impact on the EU waste legislation should be introduced in a democratic and political way, fully involving the European Parliament and stakeholders.

Mr Blokland stressed that he is not in favour of changing the definition of waste. Some clarifications on the definitions of waste treatments (recovery and disposal) would be welcomed. However, stringent environmental criteria must be maintained. He also expressed the regret that the thematic strategy does not propose any waste volume reduction targets.
The rapporteur also suggested the introduction of common limit values on the emissions of polluting fumes from incinerators: This would solve a big part of the problem of distinction between waste recovery and disposal.

Paul Speight, of the European Commission's DG Environment, explained the rationale behind the thematic strategy. He stressed the needs to modernise and simplify EU waste legislation, to focus on the implementation of the existing legislation and thus have a pause in the making of any new legislation.
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