Zero Waste Europe Strategic Framework 2022-24

Europe is in the midst of a transition and zero waste is part of it.

Ten years ago, the concept of zero waste was laughed at. Today, zero waste is mainstream, from being considered a practical approach to implementing a circular economy to a trending lifestyle globally. The efforts from civil society groups in Europe and around the world pushed the debate higher in the waste hierarchy. If at any time over the last twenty years reuse and prevention had a chance, it is now. And ZWE is committed to bringing that change forward.
From a content perspective, for the next 3 years, we will focus on bringing IN incentives and funding for the transition, phasing OUT toxics, lifting UP reuse, pushing for BETTER recycling and bringing waste disposal DOWN.

Our Strategic Framework for 2022-24 outlines the ZWE roadmap and goals for the coming years, with the ultimate aim of helping us achieve a zero waste future for Europe (and for the world, while we’re at it).

 

Available in English.

A New Look for the Fashion Industry – EU Textile Strategy and the crucial role of Extended Producer Responsibility

In the first half of 2022, the European Union (EU) will take the first steps in becoming a global leader in taking on an ugly problem: fast fashion and its mountains of waste.
The EU will become the first world region to target the flaws in fashion so directly, with regulations that promise to improve the circularity of textiles; stop overproduction; empower consumers to make more responsible choices; and make fashion brands accountable for their massive waste problem.
This political briefing by Changing Markets Foundation, the European Environmental Bureau, and Zero Waste Europe focuses on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), a powerful market-based tool that is expected to be at the centre of the European Commission’s upcoming Textiles Strategy.

 

Available in English.

ZWE’s answer to the call for evidence on the Waste Framework Directive revision

Zero Waste Europe welcomes the European Commission’s initiative to revise the Waste Framework Directive with the aim to improve the overall environmental impact of waste management in the EU. The focus on qualitatively improving the recycling system, as well as the focus on waste prevention, are of high importance as, so far, the EU efforts on the circular economy have only led to a quantitative increase in recycling. This approach has led to significant progress, but these remain insufficient with regard to the EU environmental ambitions.

Through this revision process, Zero Waste Europe hopes to see the EU complementing its existing legislation with an integrated waste prevention framework, enabling high-quality recycling and a set of concrete tools to reduce resource use and enable waste prevention on the ground.

 

Available in English.

How circular is PET?

In a report commissioned to Eunomia by Zero Waste Europe, we bring you an analysis of the true state of circularity of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in bottles in Europe – including how much material from bottles is collected for recycling; how much of it is actually recycled; and how much of recycled PET is put into new bottles.

 

Full report available in English.
Executive Summary available in English, Croatian, German, and Hungarian.

Waste trade and incineration – debunking an unnecessary alliance

To further limit the waste shipped outside its territory, the EU is looking at adopting new waste export bans. In this case, any surplus of waste should be absorbed by intra-EU recycling, prevention, and reuse activities. However, the incineration industry claims that potential waste export restrictions should lead to an increase in the need for incineration capacity.

This study demonstrates that the need for further incineration capacity resulting from new waste export bans is neither necessary nor justified.

Available in English.

Chemical Recycling and Recovery – Recommendation to Categorise Thermal Decomposition of Plastic Waste to Molecular Level Feedstock as Chemical Recovery

The objective of this briefing is to provide a recommendation for categorising thermal decomposition of plastic waste into feedstock molecules as chemical recovery. This covers mainly pyrolysis and gasification techniques.
The European waste hierarchy for a circular economy must be operationalised to favour reduction, reuse, and, as a last resort, recycling. It is, thus, essential to distinguish plastic waste recycling operations from recovery techniques. As such, pre-treatment of plastic waste into feedstock molecule shall be classified as chemical recovery and not chemical recycling.

 

Available in English.

Joint statement by business, consumer and civil society organisations: In their current shape, some compromises on the Digital Services Act (DSA) would risk harming consumers and businesses, particularly offline SMEs

In a joint statement spearheaded by BEUC, ZWE and 23 other organisations representing businesses and consumer and civil society express their deep concern about the current direction of the European Parliament’s negotiations on the Digital Services Act (DSA) and by the content of certain draft compromise amendments that exclude key platform services. We urge policymakers to avoid adopting a framework that presents significant risks for both consumer protection and businesses’ viability and reputation, especially for offline small and medium enterprises.

Ireland’s plan on single-use and plastic packaging

In September 2020, the Irish government adopted its national waste action plan for 2020-2025. The plan – which will have to be enacted through the adoption of a circular economy bill – has the ambition to tackle waste generation and move towards a circular economy through prevention measures. The plan contains several ambitious provisions on single-use plastic and packaging which go beyond the requirements of EU Single-Use Plastics Directive,bsuch as extended bans on certain single-use plastic products or a levy on single-use coffee cups.

France’s law promoting bulk and reusable packaging

In December 2019, France adopted an ambitious law on waste prevention and circular economy. The law touches upon a variety of topics such as plastic packaging, awareness-raising actions, or extended producer responsibility (EPR). Although not all measures in this law are ambitious, the document contains pioneering measures to support the development of bulk selling activities and the uptake of reusable packaging.

The Catalan law on food loss and waste prevention

In March 2020, The government of Catalonia adopted a pioneering law aiming to reduce food waste and loss. Unlike many pieces of legislation, the Catalan law focuses on all steps of the food supply chain and seeks to promote food waste prevention, rather than encouraging food donation. This is carried out through various obligations for stakeholders across the supply chain on the adoption of specific measures, thus including the primary sector.

Lithuania’s law for donation of food waste

In September 2016, Lithuania passed a law that aimed to reduce food waste by easing donations for charity purposes. The law clearly defines that food products past their “best before” deadline are still suitable for donations and gives clear guidelines on how for a safe process. Additionally, the Lithuanian law allows a deduction of up to 40% of tax profits if acting under the Charity law.

Zero Waste Europe’s feedback on the food waste reduction target roadmap

Zero Waste Europe welcomes the initiative of the European Commission to start the process to set-up binding food waste reduction targets across the EU. Food waste is a multifold problem that not only causes environmental and climate damage but is also morally unacceptable.

Therefore, it is essential to properly address this issue by adopting efficient and ambitious targets for the coming years.

 

Available in English.

Rethinking the EU Landfill Target

The current EU residual waste policy lacks emphasis on waste reduction, which then creates a paradox – it doesn’t matter how much is waste produced, only the percentage of it that is landfilled. There is a need for a new policy framework that prioritises the minimisation of generated residual waste. This would not only reward waste reduction efforts, but also give proper focus to its high place in the waste hierarchy. More importantly, it would position residual waste reduction as the way forward towards circularity and sustainability.

This report presents a comprehensive analysis and arguments on the need to improve the Landfill Directive and the Waste Framework Directive, highlighting residual waste reduction as a crucial tool to ensure alignment with the overarching principles of the EU Circular Economy Agenda.

Available in English.

Analysis of non-recyclable waste placed in lightweight packaging containers

This report, produced by Zero Waste Latvia, provides information about the waste that cannot be recycled, which ends up in a lightweight packaging container, its composition and the mistakes most often made by the public. Based on the results obtained, the report’s authors make recommendations to manufacturers and decision-makers to promote correct sorting of waste, improve communication intended for the public and take other strategic measures to improve the waste management system.