Defra has sounded a note of caution over circular economy plans outlined by the EU Commission, stating that the proposals could be costly for businesses, householders and councils.
Proposals adopted by the Commission this morning include an increased target to recycle 70% of municipal waste by 2030, as well as landfill bans and a rising target for recycling packaging waste.
These proposals will be discussed further in the European Parliament and by government ministers from each of the EU Member States at the Council of Ministers, where the proposals will require support to become law.
Commenting on the publication of the proposals a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: “We think the Commission’s proposals may have underplayed the potential costs to business, householders and local authorities and will want to consider the impacts fully before we respond”.
“While we support efforts to reduce waste we need to ensure any new legislation would meet our priorities to protect the environment, incentivise growth and avoid unnecessary burdens.”
Last month Defra minister Dan Rogerson stated the Department would not be in favour of a higher statutory recycling target, either at a domestic or European level.
Currently, EU Member States are required to meet a 50% recycling rate for household waste by 2020, something industry commentators have warned may be difficult for English councils, whose recycling rates have seen little improvement in recent years.
The latest official recycling figures for England show household waste recycling rate reached 43.9% in the 12 months to September 2013, still some way short of the 50% target, and down from the same period 12 months earlier when 44.1% of household waste was recycled.