New EU Waste Laws "A Bit Rubbish"

18 June 2008
Scottish National Party Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) criticised a deal between European governments and the European Parliament which have watered down new laws on waste, shelving ambitious targets which could have spurred innovation across the EU.

The Parliament had originally adopted a much stronger position but it had been blocked by governments. Smith does not believe that the new agreement will effectively tackle the problem of Europe's increasing waste mountain.

The MEP had strongly opposed reclassifying waste incinerators (with a certain efficiency standard) as energy recovery rather than waste disposal. This change will make incineration appear environmentally friendly and make it easier to attract investment. This would directly undermine recycling.

Across the EU 1.8 billion tonnes of waste is produced every year, with recycling rates across the EU still being very patchy.

Commenting after the vote, Smith said:

"This is the original wasted opportunity, and the resulting Directive is just a bit rubbish.

"It is a great shame that European governments, including the UK, have opposed these badly needed proposals. Europe's growing waste mountain is simply unsustainable and we need action now to tackle the problem as well as research into new technologies in recycling. But after today's vote instead of legally binding waste reduction and recycling targets, we have weak, non-binding targets and the promise of a few 'studies'.

"At the same time, waste incineration with a certain efficiency level will be reclassified as energy recovery. This promotes incineration, a waste-hungry technology, which is counter-productive to any effort to tackle the waste mountains at their source and create a recycling society.

"This is a major issue for Scotland. Campaign groups across the country protest about problem landfill sites and incinerators. Yet when the opportunity arises to reduce the amount of waste we produce and increase the amount we recycle, so that we can stop throwing waste into holes in the ground, governments are not up to the challenge.

View Mr Smith's briefing on the EU Waste Directive.