DS Smith business development and external affairs manager Peter Clayson welcomed the publication of the Circular Economy Package but felt there are some missed opportunities where the European Commission could have developed a stronger programme.
“The package reflects the need to look at the whole lifecycle of a product from the design stage through to the end of its life. We welcome the proposal to differentiate financial contributions paid by producers under an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme that rewards those who design products that can be more easily recycled or reused.
“Material efficiency and design for reuse, repair and recycling should be embedded in all products from the design stage. Part of this process should include incentives to encourage recovery and recycling at the end of a product’s life.
“While a binding target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10% is good news I wonder if increasing the recycling targets for municipal waste to 65% by 2030 is ambitious enough. The targets are still weight based, rather than moving to a carbon metric that would better reflect materials’ environmental impact.
“In too many areas the programme does not go far enough to tackle what is required. The Commission accepts that incineration is better than landfill but could have done more to stop the huge volumes of recyclable materials that are needlessly incinerated through poor collection choices. We will have to wait and see what the Waste to Energy initiative will deliver but the Commission has missed the opportunity to ensure materials are truly treated within the waste hierarchy from top to bottom, rather than the current situation.”
DS Smith was not alone in thinking the package lacks ambition. Albeit coming from a different materials perspective, The British Plastics federation (BPF) were of a similar view. It issued a statement that read: “There was a distinct lack of ambition on preventing all recyclables from going to landfill, with a figure of 90% defined by 2030; although we do accept that this is a step in the right direction.
“We hope that the strategy for plastics, which is due for completion by 2017, recognises the full benefits of which plastics bring to society and the absolutely essential role plastics will play in innovative manufacture in the 21st century. This is an industry which the EU needs to encourage and not deflate.
“We will be looking forward to working with UK Government and the European Union in the developments of the strategy.”
Also commenting on the package, The Paper Packaging Coordination Group, which comprises the major European paper and board packaging associations, said: “We particularly welcome the consideration of the role of the bioeconomy in Circular Economy thinking, as we have strongly advocated that sustainable, natural, renewable resources play an essential role in completing the loop of a Circular Economy.”