Circular Economy vote: thumbs-up or thumbs-down?

Last week, the European Parliament’s Environment (ENVI) Committee voted on amendments to the Circular Economy Package. What do we think about the result at Eurometaux? Read on to get our thumbs-up, thumbs-down analysis.
Overall, we're pleased that MEPs have made the Package more ambitious in key areas. Now, it’s up to Member States to ambitiously implement it.


Calculating real recycling rates

Package Update: MEPs called on Member States to begin measuring ‘real’ recycling rates with a single methodology at ‘input to the final recycling process’.

Under current rules, EU recycling rates don’t reflect exactly what happens to collected and sorted waste. With the revised Package, MEPs have sent a strong signal that this situation needs to change. Now all Member States should start using a single methodology to realistically measure recycling rates, by tracing how much waste actually gets recycled.  

MEPs are right to take strong action in this area. Once Europe gets the basic rules right, we can all take more targeted action towards high-quality recycling of metals and other materials.


Setting minimum operating requirements for recyclers

Package Update: MEPs asked the European Commission to establish minimum operating conditions for final recycling operators.

More of Europe’s valuable and critical metals can be recycled from our urban mines, but only when recyclers apply high-quality processes. Today, too many low-quality recyclers fail to recover enough metal from electronic waste and other products, posing serious risks to the environment and human health.

Europe’s metals need to get recycled safely and efficiently, and MEPs made the right call here by asking to hold all recycling operators to the same high standards. It’s the only smart, safe way forward.


Manufacturing with more recyclable materials

Package Update: The ENVI Committee recognised materials that can be recycled multiple times

Since metals can be recycled endlessly without losing their intrinsic properties, they are an ideal material to power the Circular Economy.

By encouraging Member States to manufacture with recyclable materials, MEPs sent a strong message that metals should play a key role in making Europe’s economy more circular. Obviously, this gets a big thumbs-up from us.


Setting recycling targets for construction and demolition waste

Package Update: MEPs asked the Commission to consider setting 2025 and 2030 recycling targets for construction and demolition waste

These targets were needed long ago. Waste from construction and demolition should be turned into NEW resources, not backfilled on sites where it will never get recycled.

True re-use and recycling targets, i.e. excluding backfilling, will push the construction and demolition industries to be more ambitious and become part of the solution to Europe’s environmental challenges.

Chris Heron

Communication & Public Affairs Director

+32 2 775 63 21


Still no solution for scrap exports 

Package Update: The ENVI Committee still failed to address the issue of ‘waste leakage’ where tonnes of scrap metal are exported from Europe to foreign countries for treatment.

Instead of turning scrap metal into a resource as part of the Circular Economy, Europe exports too much abroad to places where environmental and health protection is far from guaranteed. This ‘waste leakage’ undermines Europe’s circular potential.

Global competition for scrap is healthy, but only when the rules of the game are the same. That’s why we’ve called on policymakers to ensure that all exported European waste gets treated under equivalent conditions, and to fight against illegal exports. Last year we laid out a clear path forward to stop these harmful leaks that MEPs should really consider.