Brussels, 14 March 2017 – The European Parliament voted today on the Waste Framework Directive revision. The agreement reached in the EP reflects the earlier position of the Environment Committee (ENVI). The European Steel Association (EUROFER) welcomes the positive elements of the adopted EP report and stresses that the Council must now to show commitment towards measuring ‘real’ recycling instead of merely relying on high targets that may be met through ill-defined means.
“The Parliament has come up with a reasonable report”, said Axel Eggert, Director General of EUROFER. “Ambitious and practical improvements have found their way into final report over and above the original proposal. However, as the EP has now agreed its position, it is for the Council to approach the negotiations with an open mind about the necessary improvements, particularly regarding the calculation method at the final recycling stage.”
The European Parliament position lays the foundation for recognition of industrial co-products as ‘by-products’, empowering the Commission to initiate a harmonised application of the by-products principles. By-products from steel production include, among others, slags that serve as feedstock for fertiliser production and as aggregates used in road construction. A functioning EU market for the use of by-products as manufactured raw materials, replacing virgin raw materials, might just be the result. Moreover, the Parliament position has a hierarchical approach in which member states can establish national criteria for this on a case-by-case basis only where the EU is not able to establish criteria.
“However, the issue of ‘real’ recycling is still not fully settled, though the EP took major steps. The Council ought to take note of the Parliament’s intentions and ensure that this is done in the trilogues”, said Mr Eggert. “MEPs established a specific calculation point where waste materials enter the final recycling process. They requested traceability along the recycling value chain in the member states. While this change cannot be achieved overnight, it is the only appropriate choice to ensure that real recycling actually takes place as intended, rather than the meeting of targets through ill-defined methods”, added Mr Eggert.
To further improve the Parliament text, recycling should be calculated at the stage at which the sorted waste is actually processed into new products, rather than as specified now where losses may still occur after final sorting but before reprocessing[i].
“Overall, the EP report does advance the Circular Economy. However, the Council must now step up so that ‘real’ recycling can eventually take place and the recovery and reuse of manufactured raw materials is incentivised in Europe”, concluded Mr Eggert.
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The joint position paper is available: here
About Steel and the Circular Economy
Steel is a 100% recyclable, ‘permanent’ material, which loses none of its unique properties when properly processed. The European steel industry works hard to ensure that the steel it produces can be reused, recovered, and recycled. It also ensures that steel production’s by-products, such as slags and process, gases are put to the best possible uses.
This EUROFER brochure provides recommendations to policy makers dealing with issues arising in the circular economy for the steel industry. It shows that steel can help mitigate CO2 emissions and help reduce product lifecycle emissions. Steel’s characteristic as a ‘permanent’ material means it can be easily reused and subsequently recycled in a constant loop.
To this end, the brochure proposes that the recycling definition in the EU’s waste legislation be adapted to properly meet the aspirations of the circular economy. Finally, it demonstrates the large degree to which steel production retains as much of the material created during steel production and is able to make use of its by-products.
The Steel and the Circular Economy brochure is available at: www.eurofer.eu
About the European steel industry
The European steel industry is a world leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. It has a turnover of around €170 billion and directly employs 330,000 highly-skilled people, producing on average 170 million tonnes of steel per year. More than 500 steel production sites across 24 EU Member States provide direct and indirect employment to millions more European citizens. Closely integrated with Europe’s manufacturing and construction industries, steel is the backbone for development, growth and employment in Europe.
Steel is the most versatile industrial material in the world. The thousands of different grades and types of steel developed by the industry make the modern world possible. Steel is 100% recyclable and therefore is a fundamental part of the circular economy. As a basic engineering material, steel is also an essential factor in the development and deployment of innovative, CO2-mitigating technologies, improving resource efficiency and fostering sustainable development in Europe.
[i] MEPs gave a firm recommendation on the calculation methodology for recycling rates within the waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). EUROFER supports the proposed calculation methodology as being a decisive step forward for the Circular Economy. Nevertheless, the phrase, “…enter a production process”, has been deleted from the final recycling process definition as given in Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2 – point f of the original Commission proposal, modifying Article 3 – point 17a of Directive 2008/98/EC). This deletion creates legal uncertainty as the Commission wording would have provided for a calculation at the point at which materials ‘entered’ a final process.