The BDE (Federal Association of the German Waste Management Industry) has made it very clear that it disagrees with the German government’s decision – made public in September – to try and prevent recycling targets being increased.
An internal paper released on 12 September has revealed that the German government would like European recycling rates to be calculated using a completely new methodology. Moreover, the German government has suggested in its letter that the EU should not set the recycling targets for 2030 until initial data has been gathered using this new method of calculation. Such results would not be available until three years after the introduction of the new method.
The BDE believes the whole idea of a European recycling sector may be put at risk if recycling targets are not raised very soon.
With the negotiations on the Commission’s original suggestion drawing to an end, this rejection came as a great surprise for the whole of the recycling sector. The Commission’s proposal to standardise the way recycling rates are calculated in the different member states has been on the table for two years now. And things had been looking good up until then. Indeed, it was the Federal minister of the environment who called on the Commission not to lower recycling targets after the first Circular Economy Package was withdrawn. According to the BDE, the German government’s new suggestion is putting the whole idea of a future-oriented European recycling sector at risk. “It gives the impression that the German government does not want an agreement to be reached quickly or the targets to be increased,” commented BDE President, Peter Kurth.
“The faster a political decision is reached, the faster decisions can be made about new investment projects.”
Peter Kurth, BDE President
In his own letter, BDE President Peter Kurth has asked the Federal Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendricks to withdraw the German government’s proposal. At the same time, he has called on all the state ministers for the environment to support him in his endeavour, especially as the German Advisory Council on the Environment had said it was in favour of the suggested targets back in February. Peter Kurth suspects that the reason behind the German government’s surprise move is that the Ministry of the Environment is worried the country will be unable to meet the proposed targets. The BDE believes, however, that such worries are unfounded. “Even if German recycling rates did fall to begin with, this would provide an incentive to step up the efforts to improve recycling processes across the country. It won’t be difficult to reach the 2030 target of 65%.” This would also send out a clear signal to the new member states that separate collection schemes must be set up in their countries and that more money must be invested in recycling and incineration plants over the medium to long term.
Most of those in Brussels have responded to the German government’s suggestion with incomprehension and criticism. In fact, the Environment Committee is even considering voting for the recycling target to be increased when it is put to the vote in January. One thing is certain: agreement about this must be reached soon as this will lead to more money being invested in recycling processes in Germany and across Europe. “The faster a political decision is reached, the faster decisions can be made about new investment projects,” explained Peter Kurth.