Article 11(2)(a) of the Directive states member states must take measures to prepare "for re-use and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households" and possibly from other similar waste streams to "a minimum of overall 50% by weight". But there is confusion over its meaning and how it is to be interpreted.
In a letter responding to concerns raised by the County Surveyors’ Society, DEFRA highlighted a statement from the European Commission which said: "Member states can add more material waste streams from household or similar wastes to this target (for example, biowaste) in which case the 50% target would apply to the totality of all waste streams included."
It says as a result, "green waste will count towards the revised WFD’s household waste recycling target providing it is genuinely recycled". It added that this would not include energy recovery - reprocessing into materials for use as fuels or in backfilling operations.
The clarification comes after DEFRA’s head of waste regulation and business waste Roy Hathaway announced England intended to apply the target to the "totality of household waste" by 2020, in line with the commitments made in the 2007 waste strategy (ENDS Report 406, p 40 ). He said this meant the target would be "applied to the four waste streams specified - paper, metal, plastic and glass - together, rather than individually to each material".