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Balanced circular economy package will boost British recycling but needs new regional resource networks

02nd December 2015

EU Circular Economy Package highlights:

  • Member States to use economic instruments to incentivise the waste hierarchy.
  • A municipal waste recycling target of 65% by 2030.
  • Higher recycling targets for packaging waste.
  • New EU rules on extended producer responsibility schemes.
  • A restriction on landfill of municipal waste to no more than 10% of arisings by 2030.
  • Mandatory separate collection of bio-waste where this is TEEP.
  • A ban on separately collected waste being accepted at landfill.
  • A Circular Economy Action Plan setting out plans for future measures on eco-design and for work on EU-wide quality standards for secondary raw materials.

Viridor, one of the UK’s leading recycling, resources and renewable energy companies, today (2nd December 2015) welcomed the publication of a “balanced” EU Circular Economy package which will “boost British recycling” but warned of a need for new “regional resource networks” to translate policy into practice.

Viridor is investing £1.8bn in next generation recycling and recovery infrastructure. It has however previously warned that a combination of a lack of joined-up government policy, DEFRA ‘stepping-back’ from waste policy, sustained declines in the value of commodities on global markets and the impact of austerity on local government meant the UK stood at a significant point of inflexion. Combined, these posed a real threat to sustaining progress made to date with respect to the achievement of 2020 sector targets.

The new circular economy package, launched in Brussels, represents a “game changing opportunity” in so far as it recognises the benefits a modern resource sector can bring, and the key role it can play in underpinning both European and British economic resilience.

Ian McAulay, Chief Executive of Viridor, said:

“Europe has thrown away old thinking about ‘waste’ and is recognising the value of resources. For several years recycling and renewable energy has been a UK success story with multi-billion pound investment in next generation infrastructure. However, against a backdrop of austerity, market turbulence and policy pressures, the realism of hitting existing targets remains challenging for many.

“The fresh EU package strikes the right balance across twenty-eight member states with differing requirements for collections, recycling and recovery infrastructure. Importantly it provides a practical framework for boosting British recycling, designing in recyclability and designing out waste, promoting sustainable sourcing and green public procurement.

“Whilst the package is ambitious and evidence based, only fresh thinking and bold action to replicate British and European best practice, will address the significant barriers to be overcome in order to realise the economic opportunity of a more circular economy.”

Mr. McAulay therefore called on UK Government to replicate ‘best in class’ models across the country. He added:

“We have excellent examples in the UK of aggregated, integrated service models operating at the required economic scale. These include Greater Manchester where an innovative resource partnership between the public and private sector serves 2.2m people across 1m households.

“Against a backdrop of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, what’s being achieved in Manchester and elsewhere points to best practice fit for replication. Regional resource networks, where resource policy is aggregated across council boundaries mapping infrastructure to economic development, are the key to boosting stagnating recycling rates.”

Viridor is encouraging government to recognise the potential of aggregated services models and, as part of national infrastructure and resilience policy, consider options such as setting common standards for collections by councils and piloting standard collections on specific materials such as glass or e-waste.

Viridor is set to unveil its policy paper on Building Resource Networks at the Scotland 2020, ‘Rewiring the Economy’ event in Edinburgh on 10th December 2015. Further information will be available at

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