European Green Deal highlights importance of waste sector in reducing carbon emissions

The European Green Deal was released by the European Commission on 11 December. The deal provides a roadmap for a just and inclusive transition to a sustainable and circular EU economy, aiming to convert climate and environmental challenges into opportunities in all policy areas.

The plan includes actions on how to cut emissions, restore the natural environment, improve resource efficiency, protect wildlife, and improve quality of life. Over the next 100 days, the European Climate Law will be presented as a first step towards the ambition of becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050.

The deal covers all sectors of the economy, but the waste sector was highlighted as particularly important in efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and there is a need to balance the economic value of waste with its environmental impact.

Pledges and actions for the waste sector included:

  • A re-visit of waste shipment rules to stop exporting waste outside the EU
  • Focus on resource-intensive sectors e.g. textiles, construction, electronics, plastics
  • Develop requirements for all EU packaging to be reusable or recyclable in an economically viable manner by 2030
  • Develop a regulatory framework for biodegradable and bio-based plastics
  • Implement measures on single use plastics
  • Legal requirements to boost market of secondary raw materials with mandatory recycled content
  • Model for separate collections within the EU to boost recycling and reduce carbon emissions

Meeting the objectives of the European Green Deal will require significant investment with mobilisation of both public and private sectors. At least 25% of the EU’s long term budget should be dedicated to climate action. The Commission will release a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan and a Green Financing Strategy in 2020 to help finance the green transition.

However, given the uncertainty surrounding the relationship following the UK’s planned departure date from the EU on 31st January, the impacts of the European Green Deal in the UK remain uncertain.