Industry up in arms over new Europe recycling law
BRUSSELS - Europe\'s food and drink industry is preparing to fight an ambitious new proposal to raise recycling targets for packaging material in the European Union.
Yesterday, the European Parliament takes up a bill that will require EU states to recycle 65 percent of their packaging waste by weight, against a current minimum of 55 percent. The bill also seeks to broaden the definition of packaging material.
Some industry lobbyists say the proposal is unrealistic and warn it will cost less efficient nations dearly.
Tabled by Dutch socialist Dorette Corbey, the proposal seeks to amend a 1994 European Commission law on recycling. The bill gets its first reading yesterday and lobbyists hope to secure changes in time for the second and final reading.
The EU\'s Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries says raising targets would make it harder for less efficient nations to catch up with leaders in recycling.
\"We think that given the current achievements, if we put targets much higher...it
would reinforce the differences between member states and make it more difficult to catch up,\" the confederation\'s Thierry Dieu said.
EU countries have widely different recycling rates. Germany and Sweden lead the pack in efficiency, while Ireland and Greece languish at the bottom of the table. The confederation said the new targets would increase costs for less efficient members.
PAPER AND PLASTIC
Corbey hopes competition between packaging firms to improve the environmental standards will force them to invest in recycling capacity.
The new bill proposes different recycling targets for glass, metal, paper and plastic. It would also offer incentives to promote goods derived from recycled packaging waste.
The bill will require EU states to ensure that by January 2006 they allow new packaging into the market only if producers have done everything to minimise its damage to the environment.
Other members of the European Parliament say 2006 is too ambitious a target date.
\"We all want to see a reduction in the amount of packaging waste. However, 2006 is an unrealistic date for many member states, including the U.K.,\" said John Bowis, UK delegation spokesman for the conservative EPP-ED group in the European Parliament.
The Corbey proposal will also try to redefine packaging to include a number of new items.
The new criteria will be keenly watched by manufacturers of CD cases, tea bags, ink cartridges and even flower pots who may soon have to comply with waste recycling rules.
Environmental groups have broadly welcomed the proposal.
\"If you look at longer-term objectives, the higher the recycling targets the better,\" said Greenpeace UK campaigner Mark Strutt.
Story by Jeremy Smith
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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