The report, commissioned by NGO Zero Waste Europe and the Reloop Platform, argues that mixed waste collection could reduce EU emissions from the waste sector by up to 25%, compared to 2020. The introduction of mandatory mixed waste sorting would also help ensure the 2030 plastic and paper recycling targets are met, and increase chances that EU countries meet their targets for recycling of municipal waste.
Collection has long been a thorn in the side of the European recycling industry, with low levels leading to recyclable content being lost, increasing EU consumption of primary materials and greenhouse gas emissions from incineration and landfill. In 2018, only 38% of total waste and 48% of municipal waste was recycled in the EU, according to Eurostat. The rates vary considerably between EU countries, from 10% to over 60%.
The EU is currently working on multiple pieces of legislation related to the circular economy. As part of this, Zero Waste Europe and Reloop are calling on policymakers to include certain measures. This includes mandating the use of mixed waste sorting systems to remove recyclable materials prior to incineration in the recently proposed industrial emissions directive and/or in upcoming revision of the waste framework directive. The European Commission is already looking into ways of improving collection from municipal waste under the waste framework directive. One of the aims of the revision is to “reduce mixed waste and increase preparation for re-use or recycling of waste by improving separate collection”.
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