This report sets out to assess key current issues, and important emerging issues, in the waste policy arena in the European Commission, and in selected Member States. Eight countries were chosen for review. The choice was based on several factors.
One was the result of a recent CTC survey, carried out on behalf of the Irish EPA, which examined the European Union (EU) Environmental Implementation Review reports of the 28 Member States.
Another factor was the issue of replicability – countries were chosen with the policies, initiatives and best practices that could possibly be replicated in Ireland. The Member States examined were Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Each is described in terms of a number of headings, and the descriptions can be found in the annex to this report.
The main over-riding conclusions are:
• Countries are moving away from a waste focus towards a materials focus, and are embracing the circular economy.
• On foot of this, there are very many initiatives aimed at increasing recycling and reuse. These include legislative instruments and targets (all countries), extended producer responsibility initiatives (particularly the case in France), and fiscal instruments (such as the reduced VAT rate for repair in Sweden).
• It is essential, however, to move further up the waste hierarchy, and to this end many waste prevention programmes have been formulated. It is not clear, at this point, how these relate to the circular economy (whereas the connection between recycling/reuse and the circular economy has been made clear in many programmes).