Waste industry calls for new 2025 recycling targets

The UK should consider setting a recycling target for 2025 to drive investment in resource management and support the transition to a more circular economy after it leaves the EU, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) said. 

The trade body for environmental technologies pointed out that the UK is expected to miss its EU target to recycle 50% of waste by 2020, but sanctions by the European commission would no longer apply due to Brexit. Although the EU is considering a target covering all member states to 2030, the body said it would be more realistic for the UK to set a 2025 goal. 

EIC executive director Matthew Farrow said: ‘Such a target, if set with industry and cross-party support, would provide an investment framework for the industry to drive UK progress towards a circular economy.’

The need for a new target was outlined in a briefing paper by the commission on the implications of Brexit for the waste and resources sector. Other recommendations for the UK include:

  • copying EU ecodesign regulations that emerge from the circular economy package to facilitate trade as well as for environmental reasons;
  • incorporating circular economy approaches in sector plans being developed under the     government’s industrial strategy; 
  • reviewing the separate collection provisions of the revised Waste Framework Directive;
  • encouraging common regulations between the devolved nations even if targets and initiatives diverge; and
  • retaining the EU definition of waste to avoid uncertainty.

The report also states that the waste hierarchy under which waste management options are ranked according to sustainability should also recognise specific cases, such as how a regulated hazardous landfill may be the best disposal option for some types of hazardous waste. 

It added that EU targets, which are measured in tonnes of waste diverted or recycled, could also incorporate measures focused on wider environmental goals such as CO2 impacts.

The paper was produced with law firm BP Collins, and written by members of the EIC’s waste management and resource efficiency working group. Members include AECOM, Augean, Biffa, Mott MacDonald, Ricardo and Veolia.  



Catherine Early is a freelance journalist.

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