EU funds can save 14 countries from missing the circular economy targets, suggests new report


25 Mar 2019


Press Contact: Janek Vahk, Development and Policy Coordinator, Zero Waste Europe
[email protected]  | +32 (0) 2 73 62 091

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels 25/03/2019

A new report [1] published today by Zero Waste Europe and Eunomia shows that countries that haven’t overinvested in residual waste treatment have a unique opportunity to raise the ambition of reuse and recycling beyond the circular economy targets.

The study assesses the residual waste [2] treatment capacity of fourteen countries at risk of missing the 2020 targets for reuse and recycling [3], and suggests that most countries may still be on time to develop their waste management system in line with a circular economy by 2035.

Janek Vahk, Development and Policy Coordinator at Zero Waste Europe, said: “The circular economy objectives are not a goal, but rather a minimum standard, and Member States can and should go beyond them. It is crucial that EU cohesion funds support them on this path, instead of financing antiquated technologies that send recyclables up in smoke”.

The report also shows that countries such as Estonia, Finland and Poland, which are overinvesting in infrastructures such as incinerators and MBT plants, might soon end up with an overcapacity in residual waste treatment, which will discourage them from raising the bar on the circular economy targets.

A case study published by ZWE in January 2019 also showed how the presence of incineration plants in the Portuguese overseas territories of Madeira and Azores is discouraging waste separate collection and recycling on the islands [4].

The European Parliament’s plenary is voting on March 27th on the use of EU cohesion funds.

Zero Waste Europe calls on Members of the Parliament to think circular and ensure public funds are invested to help Member States to improve their waste prevention, reuse and recycling performance.




[2] Residual waste should be understood as primarily non separately collected municipal waste and rejects from waste treatment.