A set of ambitious measures to make European Union waste legislation fit for the future were approved by EU member states on May 22.

Based on the European Commission’s proposals, the new rules help prevent waste and, where this is not possible, significantly step up recycling of municipal and packaging waste. It will also phase out landfilling and promote the use of economic instruments, such as Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.

“The final approval of new EU waste rules by the Council marks an important moment for the circular economy in Europe,” said Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. “The new recycling and landfilling targets set a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe. Our main task now is to ensure that the promises enshrined in this waste package are delivered on the ground. The Commission will do all it can to support Member States and make the new legislation deliver on the ground.”

The Commission had originally presented proposals for new waste rules in 2014, but these were withdrawn and replaced by better designed, more circular and more ambitious proposals in 2015 as part of the Circular Economy agenda of the Juncker Commission. These proposals were then adopted and are now part of the EU rule book.

The new rules adopted today represent the most modern waste legislation in the world, where the EU is leading by example for others to follow.