On 28 January, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) published its report on the Commission’s New Circular Economy Action Plan. MEPs call for science-based binding 2030 EU targets for materials use and for the introduction of product-specific mandatory recycled content targets.
In March 2020, the Commission published a New Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP 2.0), which introduced a series of preventive actions focused on enhancing waste prevention and management. Within its report, the ENVI Committee calls for more ambitious targets to reduce the use of primary raw materials. They also urge the Commission to introduce “product-specific and/or sector-specific binding targets for recycled content, while ensuring the performance and safety of the products concerned and that they are designed for recycling.” However, the Parliament recognizes that in order to achieve these goals, the Commission and Member States should invest in technological innovation to increase current recycling rates and the quality of recycled raw materials.
Although we welcome the EU’s circular ambitions, the introduction of mandatory recycled content targets risks halting the technological innovation process for batteries and other electronic applications. Currently, the European secondary raw materials market is unable to provide for sufficient supply; therefore, the EU needs to recognize the need for primary (critical) raw materials to keep pace with the fast-increasing demand. Additionally, recycling of many (critical) raw materials is currently not economically viable or technologically feasible. We therefore believe that the EU should consider economic and environmental costs related to recycling.
The report is available here. The European Parliament is expected to adopt the report during its February plenary session (8-11 February).