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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

“Going backwards on recycling is not an option” says Jean Lambert MEP

circular economy graphic from design to recycling

14th March 2017

This week in the European Parliament, MEPs are voting on plans to boost recycling rates in the European Union.

The European Commission’s proposal is that by 2030 65% of household waste across the EU would be recycled or reused. Currently Germany is the only EU country meeting this target.[1]

This is particularly pertinent to Britain given that for the first time ever recycling rates dropped in England from 44.8% in 2014 to 43.9% in 2015. Although Wales and Scotland are ahead with their recycling rates (particularly Wales, where 61% of household waste is recycled), due to England’s size it accounts for so much of the waste that the UK as a whole is almost guaranteed to miss the EU target of recycling at least 50% of its household waste by 2020.

Speaking ahead of the debate in Strasbourg Jean emphasised the need for concrete preventative action to help increase recycling rates “In my constituency of London we have massive variation in terms of recycling and reusing, from 17.10% in Lewisham, to 54% in Bexley.[2] We need to close this gap and lift recycling rates across London, going backwards should not be an option.

Austerity measures brought in by this government have hit local councils hard so that the improvement to infrastructure and more importantly the ability to communicate with householders about the value and benefits of recycling have not been possible. The massive budget cut to WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme)– the government’s main body tasked with cutting waste and driving up recycling – from £37.7m in 2011 to £17.9m in 2014, has also had a negative impact.”

The Greens in the European Parliament are calling for binding reduction targets for food waste and marine litter, improved collection of waste materials, stronger recycling targets and an end to incineration of recyclable or compostable waste.

“Taken together, these measures can both help the EU meet its climate commitments and boost national economies and employment. Given the current British Government pledged they would be the first to leave the environment in a better state than they found it[3], I call on it to take the very urgent and necessary steps to do just that so that my constituents and the country as a whole can leave a better city, country and planet for future generations.”