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EU Council Adopts Position on Waste Framework Directive Revision

EU Council Adopts Position on Waste Framework Directive Revision

The Council of the EU has taken a significant step forward by adopting a general approach on the targeted revision of the Waste Framework Directive. This revision, which focuses primarily on food and textile waste, aims to address some of the most pressing environmental issues in these sectors.


Key Takeaways

  • The EU Council adopts a general approach to revise the Waste Framework Directive.

  • Targets set to reduce food waste by 2030: 10% in processing and manufacturing, 30% per capita in retail and households.

  • Separate collection of textiles mandated by January 2025, with potential future targets for waste prevention and recycling.

  • Introduction of harmonized extended producer responsibility schemes for the textile industry.

  • Support for social economy entities in maintaining separate collection systems.


Key Objectives and Targets of Waste Framework Directive

The revised Waste Framework Directive sets ambitious targets aimed at significantly reducing waste in both the food and textile industries, which are among the most resource-intensive sectors in the European Union.

Alain Maron, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for climate change, environment, energy, and participatory democracy, highlighted the critical nature of this directive, noting that it represents a crucial step towards achieving a more sustainable and circular European economy.

"The general approach aims to prevent waste from fast fashion and to facilitate re-use. It also sets ambitious targets to significantly reduce food waste by 2030. Given the food and textile sectors are the first and the fourth most resource-intensive respectively, today's agreement represents a crucial step towards a more sustainable and circular European economy."

Food Waste Reduction by 2030

The directive introduces binding targets for reducing food waste by 2030, reflecting the urgent need to address food wastage, which accounts for around 16% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from the EU food system.

The specific targets include:

  • 10% Reduction in Processing and Manufacturing: This target aims to minimize waste generated during the production phase, where inefficiencies and losses can be significant. By focusing on improving processes and adopting innovative technologies, the food industry can reduce the amount of waste produced at the source.

  • 30% Per Capita Reduction in Retail, Restaurants, Food Services, and Households: This ambitious goal targets the consumer end of the food supply chain. It encourages retailers, food service providers, and households to adopt better practices, such as improved inventory management, enhanced portion control, and increased consumer awareness about food waste prevention.

These targets are benchmarked against the amount of food waste generated in 2020, the first year with harmonized data collection. However, considering the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, member states have the flexibility to use data from 2021, 2022, or 2023 if these years provide a more accurate reflection of normal conditions.

Additionally, the directive allows for the development of correction factors to account for variations in tourism and production levels in food processing and manufacturing. These correction factors ensure that the targets remain fair and achievable, accommodating the dynamic nature of these industries.

Textile Waste Management

The revised directive mandates the separate collection of textiles for re-use, preparation for re-use, and recycling by January 1, 2025. This mandate aims to address the significant environmental impact of the textile industry, particularly the fast fashion sector, which generates substantial waste.

By requiring the separate collection of textiles, the directive seeks to enhance the re-use and recycling of these materials, reducing the volume of textile waste that ends up in landfills and incinerators.

By the end of 2028, the European Commission will evaluate the need for setting specific targets for waste prevention, collection, preparation for re-use, and recycling within the textile sector. This evaluation will be based on the progress made under the current directive and will determine whether additional measures are necessary to achieve the desired outcomes in textile waste management.

This ongoing assessment ensures that the directive remains responsive to emerging challenges and opportunities in the textile industry.

Extended Producer Responsibility

A significant component of the revised Waste Framework Directive is the introduction of harmonized extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for the textile industry. These schemes require fashion brands and textile producers to contribute financially to the collection and treatment of textile waste.

The level of fees imposed on producers will be based on the circularity and environmental performance of their products, a concept known as eco-modulation. This system incentivizes companies to design and manufacture textiles that have a lower environmental impact and are more easily recyclable.

To further encourage sustainable practices, the directive allows member states to impose higher fees on companies that engage in 'fast fashion' practices, which are typically associated with higher levels of waste.

This measure aims to discourage the rapid production and consumption cycles characteristic of fast fashion, promoting a shift towards more sustainable fashion models.

Support for Social Economy Entities

Recognizing the vital role of social economy entities, such as charities, social enterprises, and foundations, in textile waste management, the directive includes provisions to support these organizations.

These entities are often at the forefront of efforts to reuse and recycle textiles, operating collection points and facilitating the redistribution of second-hand clothing. The directive allows these organizations to maintain and operate their separate collection points, which helps them continue their important work without additional burdens.

To reduce administrative burdens on these entities, the directive exempts them from certain reporting requirements. This exemption aims to prevent disproportionate administrative tasks that could hinder their operations, allowing them to focus on their core activities of collecting, reusing, and recycling textiles.

By supporting social economy entities, the directive enhances the overall effectiveness of textile waste management and promotes social inclusion and economic solidarity.

Background and Next Steps

The EU generates over 58 million tonnes of food waste and 12.6 million tonnes of textile waste annually. The revised Waste Framework Directive aims to significantly reduce these figures, addressing both the environmental and economic impacts of waste generation.

The Council’s general approach allows the rotating presidency to begin negotiations with the European Parliament on the final text of the directive. The European Parliament had already adopted its position on the matter in March 2024.

In summary, the targeted revision of the Waste Framework Directive marks a significant milestone in the EU's efforts to promote sustainability and reduce waste. By setting binding targets and introducing extended producer responsibility schemes, the EU aims to create a more circular economy that benefits both the environment and society as a whole.


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