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April 11, 2022

Textiles, plastics are focus for European Commission end-of-waste criteria

The European Commission has placed textiles and plastics at the top of its waste stream priority list to aid the development of its EU-wide end-of-waste criteria, which was originally announced in its Circular Economy Action plan.

By Laura Husband

The European Commission has spent the last 18 months carrying out a scoping exercise, which included a study in 2020 to assess member states practices on by-product and end-of waste and has concluded the priority streams should be textiles and plastics.

The Commission reached its decision following a stakeholder consultation and an online stakeholder workshop, which took place on 14-15 September 2021 where the organisation presented its ongoing end-of-waste scoping project, information gathered and preliminary findings.

The Joint Research Centre/European Commission also published a report on scoping possible further EU-wide end-of-waste and by-product criteria (europa.eu), which aimed to identify the most suitable candidate streams for further EU-wide end-of-waste criteria based on a methodology that aims to ensure added EU value. The European Commission explained the assessment was built on data and information provided by stakeholders during the stakeholder consultation period.

The aspects of the textiles stream that are being prioritised include separately collected clothes and other textiles prepared for re-use, as well as cellulosic fibres recovered/recycled from textile waste and mixed fibres recovered/recycled from textile waste.

While, the aspects of the plastic stream that are being prioritised include polyethylene terephthalate recovered/recycled from plastic waste, low and high-density polyethylene recovered/recycled from plastic waste. Other priorities for the plastic stream include mixed plastics waste recovered/recycled from plastic waste and polystyrene and expanded polystyrene recovered/recycled from plastic waste.

The EU Commission said it will start work on the development of end-of-waste criteria for plastic waste with its Joint Research Centre in Q2 this year. The final technical assessment is expected to be ready by Q1 in 2024.  

In a report published last month, independent advisors to the European Commission, Eunomia, revealed fashion is one of the least regulated manufacturing sectors, but produces mountains of waste that are burned or buried at an estimated rate of one truckload per second. In Driving a Circular Economy for Textiles through EPR Eunomia explained the EU should charge textile and fashion retailers a fee on every item they sell, to deal with the waste.

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