Half EU countries risk missing recycling targets

More than a half of EU Member States are at risk of missing an EU target of 50% municipal waste recycling by 2020, according to a Commission report on the implementation of EU waste legislation published last Monday. It shows that, despite continuous progress, “serious gaps” need to to be addressed if Europeans are to reap the environmental and economic benefits of the circular economy.

For municipal waste, 14 Member States have been identified as at risk of missing the 2020 target of 50% recycling - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. The Commission presented blueprints for action to ensure that those countries act to comply with EU waste legislation.

Europe can become the “global front-runner for modern waste management and further develop its circular economy,” Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella said adding that “there are still differences across Europe, but progress is necessary and possible if the authorities implement the actions identified in this report.” The Commission will help Member States by offering technical assistance, structural fund support and best practices examples.

In a follow-up to this report, the Commission says it will undertake visits to the Member States at risk of not meeting the 2020 municipal waste targets, “to discuss the opportunities and challenges with the national, regional and local authorities and the relevant stakeholders”. Recent estimates by the World Bank point to an increase of annual waste generation from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016 to 3.40 billion tonnes in 2050.

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