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CORDIS Express: EU-research supports waste targets

Earlier this week, the Commission adopted new 2030 waste targets that aim to boost recycling and help drive Europe's transition towards a 'circular economy'. Under our current model, valuable materials are continuously leaking from our economies. In 2011, total waste produ...

Earlier this week, the Commission adopted new 2030 waste targets that aim to boost recycling and help drive Europe's transition towards a 'circular economy'. Under our current model, valuable materials are continuously leaking from our economies. In 2011, total waste production in the EU amounted to approximately 2.5 billion tons. Only 40 % of the municipal waste generated was recycled, with the rest being landfilled or incinerated. A staggering 500 million tons of it could have been otherwise recycled or reused. According to the new proposal, EU countries would reach recycling rates of 70 % of municipal waste and 80 % of packaging waste by 2030, and it would be illegal to bury recyclable waste in landfill from 2025. The proposal also includes measures aimed at reducing food waste generation by 30 % by 2025, as well as a target for reducing marine litter. The Commission says that achieving these new waste targets would create 580 000 new jobs compared to today's performance. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, underlined the importance of research projects in our move towards a new economic model: 'Research and innovation are the keys to success for the Circular Economy, which is why we are proposing a joined-up approach today. Alongside a supportive regulatory framework, our new Horizon 2020 programme will contribute the know-how necessary to shape a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy in the EU.' Researchers across Europe are already engaged in a range of projects exploring more innovative design techniques, testing better performing and more durable products and production processes, and making technical advances to turn waste into a resource. This edition of CORDIS Express takes a look at articles highlighting some of these research efforts. - Trending science: The curious case of the disappearing sea rubbish - A new biodegradable product for environmentally friendly crops - Generation Awake talks 'upcycling' - Circular economy: the great innovation challenge - Cutting-edge research on non-food biofuels - Nurturing social innovation to reduce food waste - Recycling old aircraft plastics - Re-using industrial waste heat - Mutual learning for better waste management - 'Whey' better plastics for food packaging