UK Under Secretary concerned about EU recycling targets

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Rory Stewart voices his concern during EU Environment meeting

The UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Rory Stewart, voiced his concerns at an Environment Council meeting regarding the recycling targets as set by the European Union.

The meeting which took place in Brussels on Friday, 4 March, was held in order for the environment minister from each EU Member State to discuss the new Circular Economy (CE) package with the European Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella.

The current EU recycling targets are set at 50% by 2020 and 65% by 2030. At present, the UK is recycling approximately 43% of its municipal waste. However, as reported last week, many EU member states are concerned that the proposed CE package could negatively effect recycling rates.

During the meeting, Rory Stewart said that the UK was not concerned about the new CE package but that they did have “overarching concerns” about the recycling targets. Mr Stewart told the Environment Council that the UK was “excited” about the CE proposals and especially “the emphasis on reducing the burden on business, the emphasis on the voluntary approach”.

Mr Stewart asked the European Commission to “see the evidence base” which justifies the recycling targets as he questions whether they are really “sensible and achievable”.

However, the EU Environment Commissioner, Karmenu Vella, rebuked the naysaying Mr Stewart, suggesting that any EU member states which are “not achieving those recycling grades … are are literally burying valuable resources in the ground or burning them.”

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