Europe should aim to reduce food waste by as much 50 percent and increase recycling to 70pc by 2030, according to ambitious targets backed by Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament in a vote on the EU Circular Economy in Strasbourg this week.
“The European Commission released the Circular Economy Action Plan in December 2015, with the waste package of four interlinked reports as the key legislative proposal. It contains new recycling targets, harmonised definitions and calculation methods, a landfill ban on recyclable materials as well as a reduction target for landfill for all EU member states. The plan sets targets to reduce waste, recycle more and raise awareness that waste can often be turned into a reusable raw product.
“I particularly welcome its special focus on food waste prevention, encouraging Member States to halve food waste by 2030.
“Importantly, emphasis is placed on those who produce waste – and that’s everyone. Citizens have a vital role to play in helping to reduce waste and recycle more. An official investigation was recently launched in Ireland after 160 containers of green bin waste from Ireland were halted on their way to China because the waste bins had been contaminated or not properly sorted for recycling, costing the waste industry in Ireland half a million euro. Householders have a responsibility to do their part and responsibly dispose of waste. Simply putting the correct waste in the correct bins and making the effort to recycle more would make a difference.
“Currently, just 44pc of waste from households and businesses is recycled, composted or prepared for re-use. I would like to see this rise by 2030. Landfilling could be reduced to 5pc, tighter than the 10pc proposed by the Commission. The rate of recycling packaged materials could be increased to 70pc by 2025 and hopefully reach 80pc by 2030.”
Instead of considering waste as a problem, to be buried in landfill or burned in incinerators, its value as secondary raw material should be recognised so it can be re-used as a raw product, according to McGuinness, a member of the Parliament’s Environment Committee.
In Europe, we currently use 16 tonnes of material per person per year, of which 6 tonnes ends up as waste. While waste management in the EU has improved considerably in recent decades, almost a third of household or business waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted.