The Europe-based metals association Eurometaux has released a statement welcoming the proposed recycling packaging on the Circular Economy that the European Commission recently introduced. While applauding the overall goal of the program, Eurometaux cautioned that some suggestions that were included in the package would need to be adjusted.
The association points out that the packaging program remains too weight-focused. “Metals are essential to moving to a resource- and energy-efficient society. As they can be recycled again and again, the priority should be to ensure that as much recyclable material and end-of-life products as possible are recycled in efficient conditions to recover as much valuable material/metals as economically and technically possible.
In its statement the Eurometaux has called for a continued dialog on ambitious although pragmatic measures to promote material recovery in Europe. The organization welcomes different elements of the Circular Economy package, including the requirements on waste exports that will help fight against illegal shipments of waste, the progressive landfill ban on recyclable materials, the reference to resource efficiency criteria to be developed for eco-design requirements, the request for better reporting of data and the link with innovation and ambitious recycling targets.
However, in its statement, Eurometaux says it believes the package still focuses on the management of waste from a weight perspective, and not on the recovery of valuable material and its circular management. The group says it welcomes the reference to quality recycling and the request to clarify the calculation method for recycled materials in order to ensure a high recycling quality level. It also welcomes the call to member states to take measures to recover critical raw materials. Some of the cited weaknesses of the Circular Economy package, according to Eurometaux:
- an unclear definition of material recovery, with confusion between the steps of recycling, collection, pre-processing and end-processing;
- a need for quality targets during collection and recovery steps and greater focus on the types of materials recovered;
- a need for universal quality standards and quality treatments for output fractions, particularly if they require further processing elsewhere;
- questions over the need for separate targets for ferrous and nonferrous metals that could generate extra or unnecessary infrastructure costs; and
- an unnecessary focus on specific waste streams such as hazardous materials already covered by existing legislation.
Eurometaux adds that he nonferrous metals industry is indispensable for modern society. Thanks to the metals’ intrinsic properties—including durability and recyclability—nonferrous metals are indispensable to meet essential societal needs and to build a low-carbon economy.
According to Eurometaux, the industry represents 2 percent of the EU’s GDP and creates 450,000 direct jobs and more than 1 million indirect jobs in Europe. The use of secondary materials in high-tech and high added-value activities makes them very valuable to the EU’s economy and competitiveness, the group says. Furthermore, the nonferrous metals industry contributes to resource efficiency by enhancing the in-use phase of products and also because of its high recycling rates ranging from 30 to 95 percent.