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 - 22.12.2005

Thematic strategy on waste prevention and recycling: Europe's municipalities and regions question key issues
Europe's local and regional government welcome the adoption by the European Commission of the thematic strategy on waste prevention and recycling, on 21 December 2005, but question key issues.
A consequent proportion of waste management takes place at local and regional levels, says the secretary general of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Jeremy Smith. Therefore we welcome the adoption of a clear strategy stating the objectives and basic rules; however, we do not follow the Commission on a number of points in the document.
There is a risk that the introduction of "end of waste" criteria (when waste ceases to be considered as waste through its recovery process) could reduce the scope of EU legislation, by excluding products untill now defined as waste.
We are also concerned at what seems to be a lack of democratic process on this point, adds Jeremy Smith. The Commission states that the comitology procedure will be used to define the "end of waste" criteria. This procedure sidelines the European parliament, which we cannot accept. Such decisions must be taken at political level, in consultation which local and regional governments.
On the other hand, CEMR welcomes the development of the "life-cycle" approach by the Commission; this could help reduce environmental damage caused by generating and managing waste. However questions remain about the financing and methodology of this new tool.
Finally, CEMR welcomes the introduction of clearer definitions of recovery and disposal for certain waste treatment operations.
CEMR will publish its official position on this issue early 2006.
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