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EU raises ambitions for recycling

European leaders advocate a "circular economy" that emphasizes waste reduction.

By Daniel J. Graeber
EU raises ambitions for recycling
European leaders aim to raise the bar on how much member states recycle, advocating what they describe as a circular economy. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Members of the European Parliament said they opted for a more circular economy by raising the bar on union-wide recycling goals.

A European environment committee voted to raise the share of waste designated for recycling from 44 percent to 70 percent by 2030. Sending waste into landfills, meanwhile, should be limited by 5 percent and food waste in general should be cut in half by 2030.

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Measures sanctioned for 2030 restore proposals that were outlined in 2014, but were amended and weakened in practice.

"The European Parliament's Committee on Environment has showed that it believes in the transition towards a circular economy," Simone Bonafe, an Italian member of the committee, said in a statement. "We decided to restore the ambitious recycling and landfill targets in line with what the commission had originally proposed in 2014."

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About 44 percent of all municipal waste is recycled or composted in the EU, compared with about 30 percent in 2004. The committee said that, while gains are evident, there are wide variations in commitments to the circular economy among member states.

According the committee, improving waste management could "reinvent" the European economy by making it more sustainable.

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The committee's proposals follow a pledge from the European Investment Bank that it would become the world's largest contributor to projects aimed at curbing the impact of climate change. EIB President Werner Hoyer said the commitment was meant to counter "climate skeptics" questioning the validity of climate change.

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The World Meteorological Organization reported last week that global average temperatures in 2016 hit records highs for the third consecutive year. U.S. President Donald Trump this week imposed a media gag on the Environmental Protection Agency and his pick to lead the agency, Scott Pruitt, has raised challenges to the notion that climate change is a genuine phenomenon.

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