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Greening our cities

Stricter rules on city-waste recycling and landfill reduction targets are being announced by the EU

EU Green Week aims to put sustainability at the heart of city planning processes
EU Green Week aims to put sustainability at the heart of city planning processes

The EU is adopting new rules on waste management including much stricter city-waste recycling and landfill reduction targets. It has made the announcement in EU Green Week 2018, Europe’s biggest environmental event which runs until 25 May. This year’s theme is “greening our cities”.


To help cities with developing sustainable urban strategies, Green Week will also see the launch of the new Green City Tool, which allows cities to assess their green performance and rate themselves against other cities. It is described as providing "a fountain of information" for green and sustainable urban planning ideas.


The new rules on waste, which will make Europe’s waste management system the most advanced in the world, set targets for 55 per cent of all municipal waste to be recycled by 2025, 60 per cent by 2030 and 65 per cent by 2035.


Another target has been set to ensure that only 10 per cent or less of municipal waste reaches landfill by 2035. Separate collection of bio-waste will become obligatory by 2023. The rules will help cities to cut waste, boost recycling and trigger new ideas for reusing items, making them the champions of the circular economy.


With 80 per cent of Europeans expected to live in an urban area by 2020, environmental pressure on cities is growing fast. From plans to become carbon-neutral to sustainable urban planning, many cities – like EU Green Capitals and EU Green Leaf Cities – are addressing these challenges. The EU is backing their transition all the way through rules, tools and funding.


Events are taking place across Europe as part of EU Green Week, and a major policy conference in Brussels will showcase how the EU is working for cities and citizens. The event opened in Utrecht in the Netherlands on 21 May and will close on 25 May in Madrid, Spain, with the high-level EU Green Cities Summit taking place in Brussels from 22-24 May.


One focus of the discussions will be on how EU rules on waste, water and air can be more effectively applied, for example, through the EU Urban Agenda. Some of the partnerships under the Urban Agenda such as the Circular Economy, Urban Mobility, and Air Quality specifically deal with environmental issues. How to put sustainability at the heart of cities’ planning processes will be another focus of the dozens of thematic sessions.


On the evening of 23 May the LIFE Awards will be announced recognising the most innovative, inspirational and effective LIFE projects in the fields of nature protection, environment and climate action.


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Helsinki aims to be carbon-neutral by 2035

The city aims to have achieved a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990-2030

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