After initially declaring in mid-December that some of their waste and recycling laws may be scrapped, the EU has changed their minds and decided that they will amend the regulations rather than scrap them altogether. Under threat were two of the EU biggest schemes set to influence total waste management, the clean air directive which is designed to reduce the health impacts from air pollution, and a waste directive that sets countries the target of recycling 70% of waste by 2030.
EU Regulations Shelved Until 2030 Waste Directive
After strong criticism over plans to axe the laws, the commission's vice president Frans Timmermans declared the plans would continue after alteration. "The Commission has backed down from scrapping these environmental proposals entirely, but we must now prevent them from being watered-down," said the Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder.
The new waste plans were set to bring the most stringent pollution regulations seen to date, including regulation of harmful substances such as fine particulate matter for the first time. EU analysts believed that the measures could save 58,000 premature deaths a year, with annual health benefits of between €40bn and €140bn.
But this change means that the proposals will be adapted and repacked as part of the EU's 2030 climate and energy targets in a way which will be more appealing for the countries involved. There were fears that the initial plans were simply unachievable and would face opposition from a number of countries.
"We will bring forward a modified air quality programme that will better reflect synergies with the 2030 energy and climate package and reduce unnecessary burdens," Timmermans told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. "We are not compromising on the goals we want to attain, but looking critically at the methods we can bring to bear so that we have a measure we can implement soon."
Since its creation WRAP has proved an effective body, creating regulations which have made real differences in Europe. But for these to be effective in the long term, more proposals like the one which has just been shelved need to be created and welcomes by countries who need to reduce waste and increase recycling.
Janez Potocnik, the former European environment commissioner, said: "It would be a more convincing message from the Juncker commission if they did not propose to withdraw the [waste] package, but rather amend and strengthen the areas where they think it is not sufficiently broad or is lacking ambition."
"I am pleased that the Juncker commission has confirmed its commitment to the air quality package. However it remains to be seen how it intends to revise the National Emissions Ceiling Directive. Results on the ground are very important in this case. For some of our citizens, it is actually a matter of a better or an impaired life, in some cases even the possibility of premature death."
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