The following is a Press Release from the Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe) and six other environmental and economic organizations that have joined forces to promote reuse. 

EU Circular Economy Package: Alliance of environmental and economic organisations demands that EU boss Juncker prevent waste and promote reuse 

The Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe) and six other environmental and economic organisations demand that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put into practice the EU waste hierarchy – MEPs and German Minister of the Environment Hendricks should not agree to the Circular Economy Package of the EU Commission in its current version – Binding regulations for preventing waste, reuse and protecting resources needed

Berlin, 23 June 2016: Environmental and economic organisations criticise the current Europe Commission’s draft for the so-called Circular Economy Package, which aims to reshape Europe’s waste disposal policy. The alliance, to which the Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Um-welthilfe) also belongs, is demanding that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set in place binding targets for preventing waste, for promoting reuse and for reducing the use of re-sources. According to the alliance, the EU Commission proposal does not provide any new impuls-es to help get to grips with the growing pile of waste and the escalating use of resources. Quite the opposite is happening, as the European Circular Economy Package is completely lacking measures to avoid waste.

Reusable packaging systems in particular, which contribute considerably towards waste avoidance and should therefore be especially encouraged, are not included at all. The environmental and economic organisations are consequently demanding that MEPs and the German Minister of the Environment Barbara Hendricks urge the EU Commission to put in place binding regulations to protect and expand on reusable packaging systems beyond merely bottles and other beverage containers. Binding targets to avoid waste, encourage reuse and reduce the use of resources must be introduced.

According to the top level of the EU waste hierarchy, avoiding waste must take utmost priority. The EU Circular Economy Package does not however set down any binding targets. But these are necessary to make sure that effective measures to avoid waste and promote reuse in the EU member states really are established. That is why a target of max. 130kg residual waste should be set by 2030 per year and inhabitant, as well as 90kg of packaging waste by 2030.

The Commission’s idea is that there should be a joint target quota in future for the reuse and the recycling of packaging and products. By proposing this, the Commission is seriously infringing the waste hierarchy established by itself and the European Parliament. It is doing this by elevating recycling, which occupies third place in this hierarchy, to first place, which is actually reserved for waste avoidance. An important instrument in waste avoidance is the use of reusable packaging. Environmental and economic organisations therefore demand strictly separate quotas. This strict separation is the only way to comply with the waste hierarchy, which promotes waste avoidance and does not place the economy’s focus mainly on recycling.

The way in which Europe produces and consumes is not sustainable. Too much packaging and too many products become waste too fast. The world population already consumes one and a half times more resources today than the Earth can regenerate. This means that a target must be defined for Europe that reduces the absolute use of resources. One option would be to reduce Europe’s total use of raw materials by 30 per cent by 2030, taking 2014 as the base year for such a comparison.

What is more, waste in the oceans must also be reduced. At last year’s G7 summit in Elmau, inter-national heads of government discussed marine pollution caused by plastics as being one of the greatest environmental problems facing the world. Despite this, the EU Commission plans do not contain any binding regulations concerning this problem. That is why the alliance of environmental and economic organisations are demanding the Europe-wide introduction of deposit systems for one-way plastic bottles and beverage cans.

Find out more about the 13 measures that are actually necessary in order to achieve closed material cycles and a sustainable circular economy in Europe in our joint alliance report at:

Joint Position Paper_Circular Economy

Joint Press Release_EU Circular Economy Package