While approving the Commission’s approach on waste prevention,
environment ministers have avoided the thorny issues of targets.
Market-based instruments have been left to Member States to decide.
In their conclusions, the ministers supported the Commission’s
intention to link its waste strategy with its green product policy
and other plans to make a more sustainable use of natural resources
3 October 2003). However, they were careful not to hasten
matters on most issues:
Role of the strategy: Ministers approved the
“overall thrust” of the Commission strategy based on prevention and
minimisation as “the most favoured option” for waste management.
They highlighted the need to address production processes and
product life cycles including the selection of materials and
substances in the design of products (the eco-design, REACH and
IPPC directives and regulations are mentioned here). However, they
called on the Commission to do further work on waste prevention
targets and related indicators.
Materials-based approach: The results of
producer responsibility initiatives are recognised as “positive”
but the ministers warned they should not be extended to other
sectors without prior analysis. In their view, the material-based
approach should be considered as a complement to the existing
waste-stream approach. On recycling standards, the ministers
supported the need to develop a level playing field across the EU
and invited the Commission to submit proposals for certain types of
waste and recycling facilities. They also insisted on strengthening
the EU internal market for recycling by removing technical and
economic barriers to its effective operation and to stimulate the
demand for recycled products, notably through green
Market instruments: The Council was of the
opinion that economic instruments to encourage recycling (landfill
levies and so-called ‘Pay As You Throw’ schemes) should be left for
Member States to decide as they are best applied at local level.
Sources in the Commission told us that they are likely to be
entirely left out of the final proposal.