The European parliament has voted in favour of new EU rules aimed at halting Europe’s rising waste burden. MEPs backed Brussels proposals to set strict limits on waste production by 2012 and on forcing member states to recycle a minimum of 50 per cent of their waste by 2020.
The parliament overwhelmingly supported the initiative, with 647 MEPs out a possible 687 backing the amended proposals.
But deputies shot down a controversial proposal by the commission to reclassify incinerators as waste recovery units, a change from their current status merely as disposal facilities.
Members also urged the commission to propose a directive on bio waste by 2008.
A commission official told this site that the amended text would be carefully studied by the Brussels executive and possible conciliation procedures would not be ruled out should the revised text fail to achieve parliament’s approval at second reading.
The EU produces 1.3bn tonnes of waste per year, of which 58m is known to be hazardous.
Nearly half of all the EU’s municipal waste is disposed though landfill sites, and in some countries the figure reaches 90 per cent. The average European produces over 500 kilos of waste a year.
Tuesday’s vote was “a victory” for the environment, said parliament’s rapporteur Caroline Jackson, who added that energy from waste “has a part to play” in Europe’s future.
Shadow rapporteur Mojca Drear Murko added that the EU “must also exploit the full potential of new technologies” to dispose waste sustainably.
Yet incineration “must only be considered as one of the last options” for waste disposal, said Green MEP Jill Evans.
Reclassifying incinerators as “waste recovery facilities” would have encouraged some countries to outsource incineration to facilities in the newer member states, making them “the burning grounds of Europe”, said the EEB’s Doreen Fedrigo.
Friends of the Earth said Tuesday’s vote “will help Europe’s economy to become more resource efficient and reduce impact on climate change”.