EU Commission Playing Hard Ball Over Recycling Quota

On October 17 in Brussels, recyclers from France to lobby European lawmakers to reward wholesale recycling to prevent the emission of gases harmful to the environment. Lobbyists argue the European Commission is not doing enough to encourage the use of recycled materials.

President of the federation of recycling industries (FEDEREC) in France, Jean-Philippe Carpentier, makes the clear case that, despite the EU’s commitment to going green, it is still cheaper to manufacture with virgin materials rather than recycled ones.

Mr. Carpentier argues that there must be financial incentives to embrace the ‘circular economy‘ of the EU. He wishes for a monetization of the entire recycling chain; starting with collecting, moving to sorting and, of course, including the recycling and using of secondary raw materials.

Currently, many on the European Commission have lamented the fact there is not more available data about recycling quotas, specifically there have been few life-cycle assessments conducted. In fact, currently the EU is forced to buy information from industry to measure CO2 emissions properly.

An de Schryver, a member of the environment directorate of the Commission, has called on industry leaders to provide the EU with free data to aid in their environmental efforts.

Mr. Carpentier, however, came to Brussels ready with his own assessment. Along with the French environment agency, FEDEREC produced a brand-new research study on the benefits of recycling in France, specifically CO2 and energy savings.

This study, based on life-cycle assessments, proves that in 2014 alone France prevented the equivalent of 22.5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That is the equivalent of all the emissions from air travel in the country, as well as 20% the amount that French drivers produce.

The energy saved was staggering as well, with 18 TWh of energy saved during the same time period, or the same as 80% of France’s annual residential use.

However, unfortunately for eco-warriors, the break-through assessment from FEDEREC is unlikely to brig sweeping change to the continental bloc anytime soon. Despite the seemingly-irrefutable findings, Mr. Carpentier’s study really is one-of-a-kind.

Most trade associations in EU-member states do not have the infrastructure to conduct an equivalent study, making it difficult for lawmakers to buy into the idea of incentivizing recycling. This is due to the fact that any data used to form policy must be backed up by numerous studies, not just one.

With the Eu committed to a circular economy, it seems that embracing the change proposed by FEDEREC is the wave of the future. Environmentalists will have to wait for that future, however, at least for a while longer.

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