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Review of the Thematic Strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste

Use of economic instruments to implement the waste hierarchy

The Report on the Thematic Strategy adopted in January 2011, demonstrated significant differences between Member States in the implementation of EU legally binding minimum targets (recycling/recovery rates/landfill diversion targets) and clear links between the performance of Member States and the use of economic instruments. The conclusions and recommendations of the report included "the introduction of instruments used by well performing Member States should be strongly encouraged particularly in worse performing Member States. Optimal combination of economic and legal instruments should be promoted notably through landfill bans and by applying the producer responsibility concept to additional waste streams on the basis of a common European approach" and "new market mechanisms favouring secondary raw materials should be explored, including economic incentives…"

These recommendations were recently confirmed through the adoption in September 2011 of the "Roadmap on Resource Efficiency" which includes several references to the use of economic instruments and notably the extension of the concept of "producer responsibility".

In follow-up to the adoption of the Report on the Thematic Strategy, the Commission launched a study on the use of economic instruments and their impacts on Member States’ waste management performances. The study is expected to compare various economic instruments in place in the MS, their possible influence on MS performances and the possible impact of an extension of their use in other or all MS.

Publication of the final report, follow-up

The final report and its annexes have been published on 16th April 2012. It has been accompanied by a press release. The results of the study will be taken into account by the Commission to promote the use of economic instruments by the Member States particularly where the waste hierarchy is not enough applied. Another specific study on extended producer responsibility schemes will be launched in 2012 focusing on the best practices to ensure that cost efficient systems are set in place.

Stakeholder Event

A stakeholder event was conducted on the 25th October aiming to present the interim results of the study, to ensure a minimum level of validity of the data gathered so far; to discuss and interpret the results; to identify the success stories, to analyse to what extent and how they could be reproduced in other MS and to discuss the possible role of the European Union to ensure the difusion of the most efficient economic instruments.

Discussions focused primarily on three key types of economic instruments: (1) Charges for waste disposal and treatment (landfill and incineration); (2) Pay-as-you-throw systems; and (3) Producer responsibility schemes.

A background paper - which includes the agenda of the meeting was prepared and diffused in advance of the meeting. The presentations are available from the following links:

Additional useful links:

FNADE/BIPE comparative study on Extented Producer Responsibility systems - Germany, UK, France (June 2011)

Upcoming event (22 November 2011) : International Conference on Economic Instruments and Waste Prevention, organised by ACRplus - Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling and Sustainable Resource Management.

Please find more information on