Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments

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Waste management and circular economy

Environment - 22.02.2008

Directive on waste: "Ambitious and achievable targets need to be set"
The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) calls for ambitious and achievable prevention and recycling targets, in the light of the second reading of the waste directive.

Prevention and recycling targets are.a useful tool and a clear signal indicating the direction towards which all involved actors should be heading. However, they must represent a realistic ambition and be determined in cooperation with all stakeholders, including local government. CEMR considers such targets should provide the necessary flexibility to take into account the widely diverging starting points in Member States.

CEMR calls for the maintenance as a general rule of the current policy of a waste hierarchy, whilst progressively drawing on the contribution that "life cycle" approaches may provide. The current policy ranks treatments in five categories, in priority order, from the most to the least environmentally-sound: 1. prevention, 2. re-use, 3. recycling, 4. other recovery operations, 5. disposal.

Furthermore, CEMR supports the adoption of a criteria which would distinguish recovery from disposal facilities according to their energy efficiency. This criteria should be set for all waste incineration ("dedicated incineration plants") but also for "co-incineration" plants (facilities whose main purpose is to produce energy or material products and which use waste as a regular or additional fuel), for both the municipal and non-municipal sectors.

Considering that many proposed measures of the directive have a clear political dimension and can have significant implications on the scope of the EU waste legislation, CEMR calls for for a strict limitation of the use of the comitology procedure to technical questions (decision taken by experts within the Commission without any political scrutiny). A strong role for political actors and democratic institutions should be guaranteed, in particular for provisions concerning the definition of the criteria for by-products (materials not considered as waste) and end-of-waste (when a waste is not considered as waste anymore).
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