On average the European Union creates approximately 2.5 billion tonnes of waste every year, or about the weight of the Great Pyramid of Giza four hundred and twenty times. This massive amount of waste has serious consequences to the environment. Waste releases harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment which are contributing to global warming, and the pollution of water and soils.
What is a circular economy?
To combat this the European Parliament announced a plan to switch to a “circular economy”, which essentially means an economy that reuses and recycles existing materials and products for as long as possible to reduce waste/landfill use. MEPs have backed plans to actively boost recycling and cut landfill use, and on the 16th of April 2018 MEPs debated the “circular economy package”
The circular economy package
The circular economy package will establish new targets and deadlines for waste recycling and the reduction of landfilling. Which will not only reduce the pollution caused by waste it will also reduce the need for raw materials.
The package will set different targets for different materials, the deadline for these targets is 2030.
Circular economy package targets 2030
- 65% of waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 10% of waste landfilled
- 75% of all packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 55% of plastic packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 75% of wood packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 85% of ferrous metal packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 85% of aluminium packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 85% of glass packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
- 85% of paper and cardboard packaging waste prepared for reuse and recycling
What will the targets achieve?
The reason it’s important that the EU sets these targets and deadlines is because all new targets are legally binding which will drive the incentive to recycle and reduce landfill in EU member states.There are different targets for each member state and specific targets are also set for specific materials. However the plan generally aims to increase the use of recycling to 65% of all general waste by 2030 and to reduce waste put into landfills to just 10% of all general waste by the same year. (Targets for Ireland)
These targets aren’t simply a good thing for our environment, but when waste causes pollution and contributes to climate change we end up losing more money, energy and natural resources than most of us realize.
While these new targets are important it’s also good to remember that it’s also up to people to active work to reduce their waste and recycle. It’s in the small changes we make in our everyday lives that can make a powerful difference to the health of our planet.